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HONDA Australia has gone digital with its newest ad campaign for its refreshed HR-V small SUV, and surprises with a multi-faceted presentation based on real-life customer experiences.

There has also been a shift in how the car is marketed to its intended audience, primarily young females, according to Honda Australia general manager of customer and communications, Scott McGregor.

“We still see the HR-V as appealing to a younger demographic and with a skew to the female buyer but the audience does stretch to older owners who want a versatile car with a high hip point, for example, and for people seeking a small car with a large cargo space,” he told GoAutoNews Premium at the launch of the updated HR-V last week.

“The difference with our approach to the audience is by recognising how they want to be addressed.

“The best example of that is our focus groups that have found that we have to talk to our buyers – particularly young females – in a way that is not patronising.

“Some of the remarks back to us have been that ‘the car industry doesn’t get us’ and that ‘we feel patronised’ and ‘the advertising doesn’t relate to reality’.

“Oddly, we found that ute advertising had a better accord with female buyers than car advertising and that was found to relate to the honesty and directness of the ute campaign.”

The campaign by Honda’s advertising agency Leo Burnett was devised by taking 150 stories of real-life Honda owners.

These were then distilled into eight characters, each with very different ownership experiences and needs, and then portrayed in a commercial that was primarily aimed at digital audiences.

The ad was also unusual because one actor – Australian Krew Boylan who most recently portrayed Schapelle Corby in the mini-series about the drug courier – played the eight roles of five females and three men.

The roles show how the characters use their HR-Vs, including one who tours sidewalks looking at recycling discarded furniture and then using the HR-V’s “magic seat” adjustment to fit in chairs.


Another uses the SUV’s heated seats to keep the takeaway food warm.

“The ads were shot by one production crew and the one actor in only three days,” Mr McGregor said.

“It is completely digitally launched and that’s the first time we have done that. So it is on Honda Australia YouTube and other digital media.

“The ads are 15 seconds to 45 seconds and that format makes it better suited to digital where the message can be tailored for the audience.

“We are also using other media for the car, including TV, radio and Qantas magazine.”

The ads are now on Honda’s YouTube site and begin on TV this week.

By Neil Dowling