Honda's Musical Road — An Unprecedented Sensory Event

October 8, 2008

by
RPA

Santa Monica, CA, October 8, 2008: Bicoastal Park Pictures directors Lance Acord (DP: Marie Antoinette, Lost in Translation) and Benzo Theodore collaborate with RPA Santa Monica, CA to create a first-ever branded experience in the U.S. Launched September 5, 2008, "The Civic Musical Road" on Avenue K in Lancaster, CA, encompasses the physical installation of a musical rumble strip that plays the William Tell Overture (aka "The Lone Ranger" theme song) when driven over by motorists at 55mph. The short-lived event — the road was recently paved over — captured the imagination of the national media and the public and was documented and filmed, for an ad campaign directed by Park Pictures’ Lance Acord, along with branded web content directed by Park Pictures’ Benzo Theodore. The resultant flurry of user-generated content pieces have already garnered 100s of thousands of YouTube hits, bolstering the Honda Civic's brand position as a Gen Y pop culture icon.

The integrated ad campaign consists of three broadcast spots (1x:15), (1x:30), (1x:60); the 30-second spot breaks on CBS Sports on October 12. Online branded canvas ad units will be featured on NBC.com and five Internet episodes will debut on http://civic.honda.com. All capture the mathematical development and physical implementation of the historic musical road.

"Honda is an advanced engineering company, and we thought it would be interesting to connect that to the Civic advertising campaign," says Gary Paticoff, RPA's Senior Vice President and Executive Producer. "This feat of highway orchestration began months earlier with the idea of building a road that embodies the youthful driving spirit of the Civic and connects the driver and the road. The goal was to create an experience that could be enjoyed by many and have a life of its own."

"The agency entrusted me and my Park Pictures team to create a completely original branded experience," adds Acord. "I have always been interested in the intersection of the creative and the technical. The musical road project afforded a chance to capture on film the spirit of adventure behind this singular engineering challenge."

"We set out to create buzz and excitement for a youthful icon of America, the Honda Civic. Thanks to the work of Lance Accord, Park Pictures, the open-minded attitude of our clients at American Honda and dozens of Associates at RPA, we have succeeded on a grand scale,? said David Smith, EVP, Executive Creative Director at RPA. ?The internet chatter, the enthusiasm from those who have experienced ?The Civic Musical Road' and the amazing press coverage are all testament to the power of delivering a cool idea to a target that appreciates it. So much notice, and the TV spots have yet to break."

The concept of the musical road is similar to a record player needle vibrating over the grooves of a vinyl LP. The Civic Musical Road is the first of this type of phenomenon in the United States and likely the first branded musical road in the world. Unlike traditional advertising, The Civic Musical Road excites with a multisensory event, enabling motorists to look, touch, listen to and drive through an experience, then to chronicle and share that experience with friends through user-generated videos and content. According to RPA's Paticoff, this type of deep brand connection is deemed ‘buzz worthy’ by Gen Y who value self-expression, Honda Civic's primary target audience.

Honda "Grooves" opens on the high desert landscape where the planning team maps and calculates the spectrum of spacings for the notes in the William Tell Overture. With an accompanying voiceover by project leader K.K. Barrett, the musical project plan is revealed, "Here's the idea: what if we were able to change ? [rumble strip] tones into notes and then spread those notes across the lane of a freeway so that when someone drove down the road, it would play a song?"

Park Pictures’ implementation team — consisting of Peter Andrus, project planner; Paul Du Gre, musician/mathematician; Mary Ann Marino, line producer and road scout; Bobby Pollard, materials/pitch specialist and Aimee Rousey, art director — used rumble strips as data files to measure the slits in the road that create a certain tone. With these calculations, Avenue K in Lancaster, CA became a construction site of road graders, drill rigs, asphalt distributor trucks, vibratory rollers, and paving finishing rigs laying down the musical grooves through the desert night. Finally at dawn, Barrett says, "OK, let's drive this thing and see what it sounds like."

Cut to the backseat perspective of a silver Honda Civic passenger cruising the quarter–mile stretch of The Civic Musical Road to the familiar tune of the William Tell Overture as the car passes over it. The action concludes with celebratory clapping and exuberance amongst the team as the viewer hears, "Good work! It's a success." The Civic and Honda logos close out the spot.

About Park Pictures Founded in 1998 by Executive Producer Jacqueline Kelman Bisbee and renowned filmmaker/cinematographer Lance Acord, Park Pictures has an auspicious track record of discovering and mentoring new filmmaking talent and infusing all projects with big screen production values. Park Pictures has forged strong partnerships with agencies and clients by engaging all members of its team in creative problem solving. Embracing new formats and longer form integrated projects, the company continues to gain momentum in the changing advertising arena. A reciprocal relationship with Academy Films in London strengthens Park Pictures’ International presence.

The company's feature film roots are evident in the work itself, thanks in part to the expertise of directors Acord (cinematographer, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, Where the Wild Things Are), Joaquin Baca-Assay (cinematographer, Roger Dodger, We Own the Night), Alison Maclean (director, The Tudors, Jesus' Son, Crush.) Additional directors on the roster include Joachim Back, Albert Kodagolian, Steve Mottershead, Chris Sargent, Jake Schreier, Carter Smith and Benzo Theodore.

About the Honda Civic Every Honda Civic comes loaded with style, sophistication and the very latest in advanced technology. From the Civic Hybrid to the exhilarating Civic Si Coupe or Sedan, there is a Civic to suit everybody. Select Civic models are available with the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System™. Showcasing Honda's engineering at its best, the Civic features the latest i?VTEC® engine, offering torquey low-end grunt in addition to high-rpm horsepower. The Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ body structure enhances the Civic's ability to deal with crash energy in frontal impacts with vehicles of differing size.

About RPA RPA, headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., is a leading 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's client list includes American Honda, both the Honda and Acura brands, La-Z-Boy, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Pharmavite's SOYJOY and PENTAX Imaging Company, and it is the media planning and buying agency for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Lenox Financial Mortgage and Reily Foods. For more information, visit http://www.rpa.com.

Credits: Client: American Honda Motor Co. Title: Honda "Grooves" :60, :30, :15 Airdate: October 12, 2008 Shoot Location: Los Angeles, CA & Lancaster, CA Production Company: Park Pictures, New York/Santa Monica Directors: Lance Acord (TV); Benzo Theodore (webisodes) DP: Lance Acord (TV); Benzo Theodore/Ross Harris/ZS Grant (webisodes) Executive Producer: Jackie Kelman Bisbee Producer: Mary Ann Marino Associate Producer: Ahnee Boyce Advertising Agency: RPA, Santa Monica, CA EVP/Executive Creative Director: David Smith; SVP, Creative Directors: Joe Baratelli; Pat Mendelson Senior Copywriter: Adam Lowrey Art Director: Laura Hauseman SVP/Executive Producer: Gary Paticoff Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors, Santa Monica, CA (TV); Park Pictures, Santa Monica, CA (webisodes) Editors: Adam Pertofsky (TV); Ross Harris (webisodes) Assistant Editor: Ryan Delk (TV) Postproduction Facility: A52, Santa Monica, CA (TV); Park Pictures, Santa Monica (webisodes) Audio Post/Sound Design Company: Frameworks, Santa Monica, CA (TV); Park Pictures, Santa Monica (webisodes)