A New Honda Ad, Made During Quarantine, Ends With a Surprise Twist

No stock footage, all original content from Memac Ogilvy in Dubai

A new ad for Honda didn't require stock footage. Honda
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

Any commercial that shows a car racing through wide open spaces had to have been shot before the current pandemic and its mandated lockdowns. Right?

In this case, no, because the classic blue Honda Civic at the center of the ad isn’t actually on the road. And though the camera pans lovingly across its exterior and captures its turns and maneuvers, the sleek sedan isn’t what it seems. 

Here’s a clue from the on-screen message: “This might be the first car commercial to be written, directed, edited and watched entirely from home.” 

Take a look at the ad before reading on.

For many agencies, cobbling together spots is the order of the day right now, with creatives everywhere thanking their lucky stars for stock footage, consumer-generated video and unused bits and pieces of film in reserve.

But Memac Ogilvy in Dubai, for client Honda UAE, purposely went in another direction, with chief creative officer Juggi Ramakrishnan saying, “Our idea was to create a homemade ad and demonstrate to our audiences that life can still carry on in quarantine.”

Here’s how they did it. Agency exec Amin Soltani acted as producer-director, working with director of photography Umran Sheikh, who happens to live in the same building.

They borrowed the miniature car from a Honda exec’s kid (it was delivered to them), attached it to a hook and fishing line and pulled it around on the floor. Yes, that’s plush carpeting in one shot, which is the first not-so-subliminal tip-off that looks may be deceiving.

Using mostly natural light, with the occasional bedside lamp as an additional resource, the co-workers used books to create the illusion of buildings and shot the toy moving under a couch to replicate the look of a tunnel, Ramakrishnan says. Their equipment was limited to the Ogilvy in-house camera fitted with Soltani’s macro lens.

The 30-second spot shows the adaptability needed for today’s crisis environment, he says, while trying to be hopeful about the situation with the tagline, “Until we drive again. #StayHome.”

Ogilvy’s office in the Middle East is also responsible for memorable Ikea work like The Book That Will Change Your Life and its “sleepiest print ad ever.”


Agency: Memac Ogilvy, Dubai
Chief Creative Officer: Juggi Ramakrishnan
Creative Director: Jean-Pierre De Villiers
Creative Team: Nicolas Lopez and Fernando Montero
Client Team Lead: Hadi Ballout
Senior Account Manager: Kenneth Monis
Account Manager: Firas Rehimi
Head of Production: Amin Soltani
Director: Amin Soltani
Junior Producer: Ann Vaas

Head of Marketing and Brand Operations: Grant Bowring
Marketing Communication Executive: Rohit Bedekar
Digital Marketing Manager: Emad Hassan

@TLStanleyLA terry.stanley@adweek.com T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.