With Sid Vicious’ Help, Acura Aims to Shake Up Sedan Advertising

Anthem ad for the new TLX features the famous rocker crooning 'My Way'

Acura uses music to inject some sizzle into the sedan category in its soon-to-break campaign for the new Acura TLX.

The new ads, from lead agency Mullen LA, include a 60-second launch spot that depicts auto engineers sketching, assembling and testing the TLX. The fast-moving ad unfolds with a series of quick cuts that are punctuated by the sound of Sex Pistols icon Sid Vicious singing “My Way.”

Other, shorter ads feature songs from Ludacris (“Pimpin' All Over the World”), Splash ("Girl Is a Queen") and RJD2 ("Her Majesty's Socialist Request"). The campaign tagline is, “It’s that kind of thrill.”

“We're trying to get this thrilling and excitement message across. We want to use music to help convey that," explained Mike Accavitti, svp and general manager of the Acura division of American Honda Motor Co. "We're going to use it as a means to underscore and emphasize what we're trying to do with the whole brand, which is position it as more youthful."

And while the Vicious track came out in 1978, "it is an edgy interpretation of a classic song that we think aligns very well with what the brand is all about," Accavitti said.

The shorter ads will appear both on TV and online, starting Aug. 17. Other elements of the campaign include those straight-talking ads that Jerry Seinfeld wrote around his Web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee; “Thrillustrations” from cartoonists for The New Yorker that will appear on social media platforms like Facebook; and digital ads on ESPN’s Bracketology site for college basketball. Acura’s relationships with ESPN and Seinfeld date back to 2012 and with The New Yorker, to 2010.

The TLX, a new model that replaces two older models—the compact TSX and mid-sized TL—is seen as key to fueling sales growth at Acura, whose lineup is limited to three sedans and two SUVs. As such, the luxury automaker will spend significantly more on the new campaign than its previous largest effort—for the launch of a new MDX last year, Accavitti said. The 2013 push, tagged, “Made for Mankind,” was backed by nearly $75 million in media, according to Kantar Media.


Acura senior marketing manager Ed Beadle described the TLX’s core target as smart, self-aware, Internet-savvy adults in their mid-30s—a group that skews male. The car, which is available in two types of engines, will sell for between $30,000 and $44,000, thereby competing with the likes of Audi's A4, Mercedes’ C-Class and the 3 Series at BMW. Thus far, auto writers, such as Bill Howard at ExtremeTech.com, have given the TLX generally positive reviews.

Accavitti’s challenge was to translate internal enthusiasm for the car—developed in the course of five years—into a rallying cry that works both inside and outside the organization. And with “It’s that kind of thrill,” he feels he found just that. Ultimately, of course, consumers will decide if he’s right. But feedback on the direction going in has been positive, according to the brand leader.

"It's not like we have a bad reputation that we need to overcome," Accavitti added. "It's just we have like a nondescript reputation. And so, how do we get into consumers' heads that this is a brand that they should consider?"