Accord has always been Honda's trophy car. So why not build a marketing campaign around that idea?
The brand's new advertising campaign for its iconic mid-size sedan, "Trophy City," dwells on trophy-worthy accomplishments by humans and encourages them to excel -- as Accord does. "Trophy City" advertising made its debut last week during televised NFL and NHL games, and Accord was placed on an episode of Will & Grace and on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Upcoming high-exposure moments will include ads during the Golden Globes and Latin Grammy Awards as well as across several sports platforms.
Honda recognizes that the U.S. market has shifted toward SUVs and crossovers and away from sedans, but Susie Rossick told me that Accord is special.
"Realistically we recognize that SUVs are becoming more and more of the car market., the assistant vice president of Honda marketing said. "People are moving toward SUVs. We're not discounting that for sure. But there's still a lot of demand for sedans. Sedans are still the major driver when it comes to brand opinion for your overall brand, according to GfK. That's another reason why Accord is so important to Honda. Eventually SUVs will be the major driver of brand opinion but that's down the road.
"Our goal is that if you're in the market for a sedan and this is a choice you want to make, that you choose Accord, because it offers you everything you need. For the first time in a sedan, for instance, we have the Honda Sensing suite of safety features across all trims."
Indeed, with the all-new, 10th-generation Accord, Honda is certainly aiming for better. Among other upgrades, it's got two new turbocharged engines, a segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission and six-speed manual transmission for each engine, and a third-generation hybrid powertrain.
So, in a TV ad, a city skyline of metallic, animated trophy figurines pontificate about pushing higher to achieve things, until finally they ascend to the level of a new Accord, suspended on a pedestal over the city. "The most impressive Honda ever," the ad concludes. "Our quest for better never ends."
Because this Accord represents the pinnacle in sedan achievement for Honda, Rossick said, "We wanted creative to reflect that. This concept from RPA really speaks to the idea, the notion of never resting on your laurels. Accord has been on Car & Driver's 10 Best list more times than any other car in history. Even in the last year of the previous version. That made us work even harder to produce an even better Accord.
"In this Trophy City, everyone is in first place, but Accord is saying we didn't rest on our laurels, wanted to be even better."
Rossick said that the "Trophy City" campaign also includes a "really cute social extension that we'll roll out a little later that allows consumers to [award] trophies to their friends, such as the best baker of the day. We like the ability ... to take creative across everything we do, especially social, and this particular campaign is great for that.
"We're looking from a media plan at doing the most comprehensive media plan we can, targeted at certain audiences, and we're going everywhere we can including regional and digital."
But while Honda "wanted to go with high-profile programming to introduce the Accord" including the marquee NBC shows, and National Football League telecasts, "the real guts of the launch will take place in January. We're at an awkward point right now where we're getting to end-of-year sales events. But we wanted to introduce the new Accord to consumers to let them know it's out there."
Does the NFL still qualify as the megabuy that it did a couple of years ago? "Clearly were' not going to deny that NFL ratings are down," Rossick said. "We'll make compensation for that but it's still reaching millions and millions of people, and live television is still the place you have to go to get those big numbers for awareness. We'll re-evaluate it as the season continues. It's still big."