Honda – The Fit is Go!

Campaign review by Stuart Elliott, New York Times: THE Marshall McLuhan proclamation that "the medium is the message" is being taken to heart by the American Honda Motor Company for the introduction of a subcompact intended for drivers who live in cities. A campaign scheduled to begin Thursday for the new car, a five-door hatchback called the Honda Fit, makes media choices meant to help consumers sort themselves as, well, fit or unfit for Fit, which will compete against models like the Chevrolet Aveo, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa, Scion xA and Toyota Yaris. The Fit campaign has a budget estimated at $20 million to $30 million, typical for a new car. To demonstrate that Fit is smaller than most other cars, American Honda and its agency, RPA, for instance, will run a series of commercials that are 5 seconds long rather than the standard 30 seconds. To make the same point, the brochures for Fit being distributed at dealerships and auto shows are smaller than those for other cars: 6 inches by 6 inches rather than the usual 8½ by 11 inches. Miniature flip books displaying the interior and exterior features of Fit will echo the size distinction. And to emphasize that Fit is best suited for urbanites seeking smaller gas sippers, the campaign will appear in a variety of nontraditional media favored by such consumers. A teaser campaign has been running in the entertainment and lifestyle sections of the Web sites of newspapers in cities like Baltimore and Los Angeles. Starting Thursday, video and interactive Fit ads will show up on blogs and Web sites with a metropolitan point of view, among them citysearch.com, evite.com, match.com and ticketmaster.com. They will also be featured on a special Web site (fit.honda.com). Fit will even sponsor episodes of a humorous online video series aimed at white-collar workers, titled "Cube Fabulous," appearing from May through August on Web sites like ifilm.com and windowsmedia.com. To reflect the subcompact status of Fit, the Webisodes — presenting whimsical makeovers of dowdy office cubicles — will run 5 to 7 minutes each, rather than the usual 30-minute length of an episode of a TV series. "We were looking for a campaign that was not typical, that had energy, that helped define a personality for the vehicle," said Tom Peyton, senior manager for advertising at American Honda in Torrance, Calif. "In this world of TiVo," he added, referring to the digital video recorder that enables viewers to skip or zap commercials, "the question becomes, can you have different media that speak to what the car is." "The agency proposed trying this, and I was all for it," Mr. Peyton said. "This is all about experimentation, a constant state of experimentation, to entertain and communicate with consumers." Although the Fit media plans are unusual, they are by no means extraordinary. The Mini Cooper sold by BMW, as well as the Scion line from Toyota Motor Sales USA, have been pioneers in finding unconventional media to express their unconventional personas. "There's no doubt about it, especially on the Mini side, there's a lot to learn on how to do it right," Mr. Peyton acknowledged. "It's something we're hoping to achieve with this car." For Fit, RPA, the longtime Honda agency, has sought to develop an identity that is different from Mini, Scion or other subcompacts, even if some of the media ideas, like the smaller-size booklets, are evocative of brands like Mini. The goal is to appeal to "people who are typically living in large cities, into art and music and fashion, who have a sense of 'doing your own thing,' " Mr. Smith said, an audience RPA describes as "metro-funky." The playful tone and offbeat look of the campaign is intended to pique the curiosity of that target, he added, with elements that pay tribute to influences as diverse as video games, hairstyles, professional wrestling, Japanese science fiction films and the West Coast customized-car culture of Ed Roth, known as Big Daddy, epitomized by his character Rat Fink. Indeed, oddball characters dominate the Fit campaign, resembling aliens, monsters, robots, flying silver bullets, bats and refugees from 1980's video games. The off-kilter approach is epitomized by the theme of the campaign, "The Fit is go!" which in the commercials and video clips is intoned by a metallic voice that crosses Hal the malevolent computer from the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" with Bender the hapless robot from "Futurama," the animated situation comedy.

Project Roles
Copywriter, Creative Director
Conceptual, Copywriting, Creative Direction
Advertising, Branded Content, Commercials - Video