When Honda approached top creative agency Wieden + Kennedy, one can only assume they were after a campaign which showcased the power, speed, innovation, and dynamism of their brand – they certainly got their wish. Below is the stylish, intense and attention-grabbing ad that emerged from the marketing brains charged with wowing existing and potential Honda customers.
The ‘challenge yourself’ concept
So what was the thinking behind this advert? Well, for once I don’t have to guess, as accompanying the video clip on the Wieden + Kennedy website was the following snippet:
“The Honda range was born from Honda’s challenging spirit. We reflected this with comms which challenged the viewer – making them appreciate the joy of pushing their limits.”
Wieden + Kennedy’s desire to communicate Honda’s ‘challenge yourself’ ethos is present right from the get go, with a countdown of “3, 2, 1” beginning the advert, complete with visual effects that take us all back to the car racing games we played as kids (and to which many of us are still partial).
Next comes the text – it is not the easiest to keep track of. This is an incredibly effective device. Firstly, it demands the viewer’s attention, and this concentrated focus, in turn, means that the viewer absorbs the advert more deeply. Also of note here is the fact that, although the words certainly do challenge the audience to keep up and appear on screen in very quick succession, certain key words, which must be seen by the viewer, have a little more time on the screen. This means that, even if the viewer doesn’t see every word, they certainly get the gist. In other words, the message of the ad is not compromised by the lightning-quick text.
The ‘challenge yourself’ message is a core component of many advertising campaigns, and this Honda ad does an extremely good job of appealing to people’s desire to be better, push further, and progress faster.
As I have learnt over the past few months, effective ads have effective music, and this powerful piece is no exception.
The music used here embodies the aura of the ad itself – it is upbeat, fast-paced, intense, and speeds up as the advert progresses. It is also delightfully abrupt, which is particularly effective at the end of the video, as lots of things happen in quick succession.
Symbolism, symbolism and more symbolism.
The use of a desert in this ad is extremely effective, for a number of reasons. First of all, a desert is perfect when it comes to showing the speed and power of a car. Unlike a normal environment, there is nothing to distract from the vehicle itself. There are no buildings, bridges etc. Also of note is the fact that concrete doesn’t fly up into the air when a speeding car cuts through it – sand does. It seems as though the ad agency used this to purposely demonstrate the speed and aggressiveness of the Honda.
Finally, a desert represents a kind of freedom. There is no direction in which one must drive, and no roads one must follow.
The single camera shot
Throughout this entire advert, the camera angle does not change once. This method is another very effective element, and is great when it comes to the introduction of the Honda vehicles (four in total). They burst into shot without the viewer expecting it, thus making their entrance all the more dramatic.
This camera shot is also extremely useful when it comes to exaggerating the speed of the cars in the advert. Whether they are flashing across the screen, or racing directly towards the camera, everything about them is more dramatic and, let’s face it…….cooler.
Throughout the advert, a few non car-related things pop in. The first of these is an astronaut. As I observed in another analysis from a couple of months ago, the concepts of space and astronauts is very effective in adverts. The latter represents one of the pinnacles of achievement – many of us wanted to be astronauts as kids, but it is pretty hard to actually get there. This is another way to empower the viewer and essentially say ‘you can do anything’.
Also thrown in for good measure is a commercial jet. Introduced towards the end of the ad, its roaring engine combines very well with the intense music and the growl of the Honda car as it speeds through the desert, bringing the ad to a close.
General stylistic comments
In terms of style, the first thing to note is the beautifully contrasting sky blue background and bright red text; two bright, engaging colours, playing off each other gloriously.
A lot of the stylistic devices employed in the advert are related to the text. Among these is the emphasis placed on the word ‘improve’. Of all the words in the advert, this one spends the most time on the screen, and is even garnished with flickering special effects to really bring it to the attention of the viewer. It could well be that the advert is trying to tell the viewer that they can ‘improve’ by purchasing a Honda car.
This ad is all about power, whether it be the physical power of Honda, or the abstract power of human endeavour. The on-screen text tells the viewer that they can achieve the most incredible things and accomplish feats well beyond what they had previously thought possible. Elsewhere, the general vibe of the ad is all about that feeling we all have inside us – yes comfort and affordability are important, but ain’t it cool when you feel that power underneath you as you put your foot down? The answer is yes!