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Honda banks on Insight

Big plans: Honda forecasts 200 Insight sales a month and is about to start airing a new series of television commercials voiced by British author, actor and comedian Stephen Fry.

Insight to kick-start a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign to lift Honda’s image

24 Nov 2010

HONDA Australia will back its all-new Insight hybrid with a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign that introduces a new brand message designed to make the car-maker less “boring and conservative” in the eyes of many consumers Down Under.

Launched this week ahead of its official release in December – almost two years after it went on sale in Japan, where it was voted 2009 Car of the Year – the five-door petrol-electric hatchback will be Australia’s most affordable hybrid at $29,990 – $4500 less than Honda’s own Civic Hybrid ($34,490), $7000 below Toyota’s Camry Hybrid (from $36,990) and $10,000 cheaper than the Prius (from $39,990).

To get the message across – and to change the perception of many Australians who regard Honda as “cold, dated and old” – the Insight will be the subject of a new TV commercial that introduces a new promotional slogan ‘What if? What next?’ which will be used for all of the brand’s future advertisements.

15 center imageHonda Australia sales and marketing manager Stephen Collins said at this week’s Insight launch that Honda had taken a new direction for the Honda brand, starting with a new series of TVCs (television commercials) with voice-over by respected author, actor and comedian Stephen Fry.

“This new direction came out of research that we conducted, which told us that customer perceptions were often at complete opposites regarding our brand,” he said.

“We asked our customers to imagine they were walking down a corridor and came to a Honda door, then asked them what they thought they would see.

“Some said fun and funky, others said boring and conservative. Some said stylish and sophisticated, yet others said dated and old.

“We know that Honda has strong key benefits around precision engineering and future-focussed technology. However, this does make us a little bit cold in the eyes of some consumers.

“So our challenge was to capture these positives, eliminate the negatives and develop a long-term strategy.”

Mr Collins said ‘The Power of Dreams’ would remain Honda’s core brand message, but would now be complimented by the new ‘What if?’ marketing catchcry.

“We’re planning in our marketing to retain our strengths – our technological brilliance, our innovation, our intelligence and our rational thinking, while at the same time adding to our communications more enthusiasm, more cleverness and more humanity.

“This is all encapsulated in the concept we call ‘What if? What Next?’“Common elements that we’ll be presenting across campaigns will be the visual style, the voice-over and the music melody. What will change for specific nameplates is the story itself, the message, the key visuals and the music tempo.

“So all of our TV communications in particular will start with the question: ‘What if?’ We’re then going to tell an interesting story related to the technology or the product and then finish with ‘What next?’“We believe this strikes at the very core of Honda – constant innovation and invention.”

Honda has forecast 200 Insight sales a month – more than the Prius has attracted this year – and expects the small hybrid hatch to appeal mostly to tertiary-educated urban dwellers predominantly aged over 40 with no kids, who desire fun and versatility in their new vehicle.

But Mr Collins said that as well as private buyers, Honda expects the Insight will attract a healthy proportion of government and business buyers – just like the Camry and Prius hybrids – and has developed a specific fleet program to drive non-private sales.

“Insight is very much a flexible five-door hatch that will appeal to customers who want a hybrid, as well as those people that want a fuel-efficient hatch that’s great for the city and cruises beautifully on the open road,” he said.

“We believe the Insight really delivers on three core pillars: it is fun to drive, efficient and affordable.”

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