Honda Packs 73 Years and 100 Products Into This Ad Celebrating Its Legacy

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Agency RPA's supercharged spot aims to excite longtime fans and younger drivers alike

Honda is taking a look in the rearview mirror—reflecting on its 73 years in transporting people on land, sea and air—to try to grab the attention of a younger generation of potential buyers.

The campaign, dubbed “The Origin of Determination,” is intended to be a “big tent” effort with a simultaneous nod to history and eye on the future, according to Jay Joseph, vp of marketing and customer experience at the auto brand, which is ramping up to battery electric and H2 fuel cell vehicles by 2040.

There are more than 100 Honda products packed into the fantastical 60-second hero spot, from Los Angeles-based agency of record RPA, which mixes real actors and live action shots with computer graphics and special effects.

Gear heads and auto aficionados might be able to pick out most of the references, but here’s a cheat sheet of some vehicles that make appearances in the visually hypnotic commercial:

• A 1949 Dream D-Type motorcycle created by founding father Soichiro Honda• The brand’s first passenger car, the S600
• The breakthrough 1973 Civic
• The HondaJet Elite S aircraft

They all burst out of a supernova and speed across desert landscapes and sand dunes, stunt ramps and racetracks, water and sky.

The campaign “tells our brand story in a big way at a moment when we need to set Honda apart from the competition,” Joseph told Adweek, noting that the work covers “practically everything that is Honda over a long period of time. That gives us a lot of freedom to have fun.”

“The Origin of Determination,” befitting its grand mission, uses the dramatic classical piece, Verdi’s La Traviata, Act I, remixed by Superhuman, as its soundtrack.

It’s not just a walk down memory lane, Joseph said, but “an opportunity to introduce new generations” to the brand.

To bring the concept to life, with veteran ad director Paul Mitchell at the helm, creatives used “a layered approach” with CGI, LiDar scanning, live action, real actors and photographic reference, according to Sarah May Bates, RPA’s vp and creative director.

“To create a spot of this breadth would have been next to impossible if shot solely in live action, as many of the historical vehicles are located in museums all over the world,” she said.

The work kicks off today with a media plan that includes buys on broadcast sporting events like NFL games, NCAA college football match-ups and the NHL, and on cable channels such as Bravo, Univision, TNT, CNBC and streaming platforms Hulu, Prime Video and Pluto.

The spots will also appear on social channels—Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram—and digital lifestyle and music outlets such as BuzzFeed, Thrillist, Popsugar and Wunderkind. Custom music playlists will drop on Vevo and Spotify.