Since its introduction in 1997, American fans could only drive the Honda Civic Type R in a video game. Not anymore. The vehicle is finally available in the U.S., and our challenge was to launch a digital campaign befitting the notoriety of the Honda Civic Type R.
The “R vs. R” campaign involved a mixed-reality race between the Type R in the virtual world and the Type R in the real world. It was also an opportunity to see what happened when a professional video gamer went up against a professional driver.
A Car Built by Passion for Passionate Fans
The Type R is not just a car, but a passion project that best exemplifies the “Power of Dreams” brand spirit. Although it’s unlike any other car in their portfolio, it’s still part of Honda’s DNA. Honda, at its core, is a brand that’s passionate about racing. Soichiro Honda once said, “If Honda does not race, there is no Honda.” We wanted to dream up the impossible race and make it possible.
For the uninitiated, the Type R stands in a class by itself. With a résumé that includes a record lap time at Germany’s famed Nürburgring Nordschleife for a front-wheel drive car, there’s palpable anticipation from American racing and automobile fans to finally see one up close for the first time.
“The Type R is the pinnacle of Honda innovation, performance and motorsports. It exemplifies the Honda spirit and brand. And since this car is the halo car of Honda, we needed a campaign as ambitious as the car itself,” said Hartman Wong, Manager, Digital Strategy at RPA.
Capitalizing on the Rise of Esports
This campaign has particular resonance in the burgeoning industry of video games. Video game popularity shows no signs of slowing down across America. Two-thirds of households now play video games, and there are over 15 million daily active users just watching people play video games on Twitch, a streaming service for live gaming.
Esports are comprised of widely popular video game leagues and competitions typically played by professional gamers. The global reach of esports has created a market generating almost $700 million in revenue in 2017, with an audience of almost 400 million people.
“Esports gaming is huge. So the idea of esports and professional sports competing with one another is something that we found really interesting and wanted to showcase within this race,” said Mike Van Linda, Creative Director at RPA.
Creating the Experience
In order to create this mixed-reality race, we had both drivers compete on the same track: Road Atlanta. We had the video gamer known online as The Slap Train, finish his lap on the video game Forza Motorsport 7. Once we had the virtual lap time, we needed a way for the real-world driver to race against it, in real time.
The technical challenge involved making sure that the real-world driver could see the virtual-world driver’s lap. In order to do this, production studio Unit 9 developed a custom digital windscreen with track data from Google Maps and GPS. We then displayed the gamer’s lap on a digital windscreen for the real-world driver, Graham Rahal. He was then able to see the video gamer’s car, in real time, as he took his lap on the Road Atlanta track.
Once we figured out the technical challenges, all that was left was the race itself:
Honda Presents: R vs. R
After creating the long-form video, we repurposed the assets for usage across Instagram Stories, Facebook canvas ads, YouTube pre-roll ads, and short-form videos.
We were excited about delivering on a campaign that pushed the boundaries of creativity for a car that’s always pushing the boundaries of innovation.