Honda's latest campaign is part of a comprehensive effort to be a good corporate citizen that looks after customers, communities and employees as the COVID-19 pandemic limits everyday activities like going to work and running errands. As people look to brands as a source of trustworthy information and even inspiration amid widespread uncertainties about public health and the pandemic's economic consequences, Honda is demonstrating a can-do spirit that might resonate with consumers even as car sales plunge. When people are allowed to return to work and the economy recovers, the carmaker's efforts to sustain brand visibility could help it to bounce back.
Acura's #LessDriveMorePark effort is a contrarian stance for a car brand that typically showcases the performance of its vehicles on the open road, but it matches the public mood as health officials urge people to stay indoors to suppress the spread of COVID-19. With its social media campaigns, Honda's brands can reach consumers who have grown more reliant on their smartphones to connect with the outside world, and participate in their online conversations about the pandemic. Smartphone data usage surged 34% in March from a year earlier, ahead of the growth in connected TV (27%), smart speaker (30%), streaming devices (24%), tablets (12%) and gaming consoles (12%), according to media measurement company Comscore.
Honda is among the carmakers that have changed their marketing tune during the pandemic to help people who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Honda this month started offering a "First Responder & Healthcare Professional Appreciation Offer" that provides those workers with a $500 discount on new vehicles financed or leased through Honda or Acura Financial Services. The offer follows Ford's revamped campaigns that included the extension of a financial relief program to people whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic. Hyundai last month canceled its regular vehicle promotions and started highlighting its Assurance Job Loss Protection program of deferred payments, while Toyota revamped its campaigns to emphasize its customer support.
Honda has long been active on social platforms to reach audiences who tend to watch less TV. The carmaker in January debuted an augmented reality Snapchat lens that animated its Rose Parade float with computer-generated imagery. Last year, it promoted the 2020 Civic hatchback with an animated comic book series on Facebook and Instagram to target Gen Z and millennial drivers. It also rolled out a social media campaign as part of its "Safety for Everyone" push to highlight vehicle safety features. To reach the growing audience of esports fans, Honda in August became the exclusive automotive sponsor of Riot Games' League of Legends Championship Series (LCS).