Honda Launches Element SC with a Stable of New Friends and the Return of Gil the Crab

October 9, 2006

by
RPA

Santa Monica, Calif., Oct. 9, 2006 — The Honda Element and more than a dozen new friends will debut on TV, in print and on www.elementandfriends.com on Oct. 9. Honda's longstanding agency of record, RPA, is building on the brand momentum of last year's award-winning "Element and Friends" campaign. The quirkiness will continue as each critter?a goat, hamster, lobster, mole, pigeon, rat and turtle?share a unique feature with the Element on TV spots. The campaign also introduces the all-new trim model, the SC.

Targeting "Inspired Independents," this campaign focuses on outgoing and independent consumers who live an active life. Whether their playground is the contrasting jungles of the outdoors or the concrete mazes of the city, these consumers believe in exploring the less-traveled, fun and offbeat path.

"Element SC continues to speak volumes about Honda's innovative DNA . . . these new spots are the perfect compliment for keeping a somewhat unconventional product, unconventional," said Tom Peyton, Sr. Manager, National Advertising at American Honda Motor Co.

The media strategy focuses on capturing consumers' attention through a variety of unique and refreshing media that complements and sustains the buzz from last year's campaign. Computer-generated :30 and :15 spots animated by Wild Brain, Inc. will appear on sports and targeted cable TV. Targeting 18- to 49-year-old males, print will appear in a variety of lifestyle magazines, including Backpacker, Bicycling, Powder, Rolling Stone, Surfer Magazine, Wake Boarding Magazine and Wired.

Understanding that young men often spend more time online than watching TV, the Element will be promoted throughout the model year on targeted Web sites: ? Spots will run online in a variety of video placements ? Continued sponsorship with MySpace, featuring a "Best Profile" contest ? Exclusive sponsorship of SI.com's free customizable, downloadable desktop swimsuit calendar in February

RPA's innovative, award-winning search marketing strategy for branding campaigns will drive intrigued searchers to the "Element and Friends" island (www.elementandfriends.com). The island now features an entirely new underground component to showcase the Element SC and his new city-dwelling friends. Much as on the island surface above, each friend has a unique and entertaining interaction with the Element and, in turn, the consumer.

To build momentum for the Model Year 2007 campaign, an interactive extension of the "Element and Friends" campaign featuring Gil the Crab, the famous Element friend from last year, ran from July through August. Transcending basic MySpace marketing, this campaign played as a serialized story across several popular websites where Gil interacted with users rather than talking at them.

During the summer campaign, Gil learned he would not be featured in the new Model Year 2007 Element spots. He arduously labored, as any out-of-work actor would, to get the public's support in order to get his job back. He acquired more than 100,000 MySpace chums in two months (www.myspace.com/crab), authored 27 blog entries, received more than 25,000 signatures on his petition (www.savethecrab.com) and squatted on the "Element and Friends" island.

Like celebrities' nightlife foibles, Gil's pinching antics, which are detailed on his blog, attracted attention on The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com/crab). And, related gear was made available on www.cafepress.com/ipinch.

His connection with users is evidenced by over 1 million total visits to Gil's MySpace profile with more than 6,500 comments from friends and more than 1 million YouTube video views of various Element and Friends videos uploaded by users. Most important, Gil got his job back and his new commercial premiered exclusively on MySpace on Oct. 2 and will appear in the mix of TV spots.

RPA's "Element and Friends" advertising campaign was launched in the fall of 2005 and was integrated across television, radio, the Internet and print. The campaign won MIXX's "Best in Show" and the inaugural Yahoo! Search Light award, given for the most creative use of paid search in a broader advertising campaign.

Creative Directors: David Smith & Joe Baratelli Art Director: Chuck Blackwell Copywriter: Adam Lowrey Producer: Sabrina Shamma Interactive Art Director: Luis Ramirez Interactive Copywriter: J Barbush

About the Element SC The Honda Element is all about good times. For 2007, the all-new tricked and tuned Element SC features a sexier style: lower stance, 18-inch alloy wheels, retuned suspension with stiffer springs and dampers, plush black carpet, glossy piano-black trim and copper backlit gauges. The SC includes an MP3/auxiliary input jack or the ability to integrate an iPod® with the system by using the Honda MusicLink™ accessory adapter. Seats are covered in special SC-only tribal print and Nighthawk Black Pearl or Root Beer Metallic exteriors feature exclusive Copper interior trim. The 250-watt audio system plays MP3- and Windows Media® Audio (WMA)-compatible CDs. More than 170 channels of digital-quality sound are available with the SC's XM® receiver. The Element has received 5 stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's frontal crash tests. New side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, a new integrated seat-belt design and body reinforcement uphold Honda's Safety for Everyone initiative.

About RPA RPA, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., is the largest independent advertising agency based on the West Coast, with more than $1 billion in billings. RPA builds momentum for brands by offering its clients truly integrated campaigns that resonate throughout its disciplines, which include traditional advertising, interactive, and direct and event marketing. RPA also serves as a media planning and buying agency for clients such as MGM and Zatarain's. For more information, visit http://www.rpa.com.