Honda fuels a rivalry

Neighbouring frenemies carry the automaker's latest campaign from Grip.

Honda is playing up neighbourly rivalries in the automaker’s latest national campaign promoting its flexible monthly payment program.

With creative from Grip and PHD handling media, the “It’s easy to afford a Honda” campaign targets a broad audience of adults ages 18-49. The idea features two neighbours – Phil, a Honda owner, and his jealous neighbour, Steve. The brand is using an innovative media buy, having two TV spots book-end the commercial block, with both spots taking place in an identical scene, with one giving a perspective from the thoughts of Steve and the other from Phil.

The spots are meant to counter the perception that a Honda is out of the financial grasp of consumers, highlighting they can afford it through flexible payments, says David Crichton, CD and partner at Grip.

“It plays to the idea of keeping up with the Joneses,” Crichton says. “Seeing his neighbour driving a new Honda leaves him wondering how he did it and he starts imagining ways, like getting an inheritance.”

The TV spots set up the rivalry, which is carried out via a social media campaign launched yesterday, with a unique twist. Grip has created fake Facebook and Twitter accounts for the two characters, where they will continue to wage their cold war, with Steve assuming he knows how Phil paid for the car while Phil gloats to himself. Honda’s social channels will re-tweet and post the fictitious users’ comments, and chime in now and then, Crichton says.

The brand is also using active online banner ads billed as a “Jealous Neighbour Translator” on about 20 sites. The ads start off featuring a comment, such as “Sweet Honda neighbour,” before the translator shows the “real meaning” behind those words, replacing it with “Did you pawn your wedding ring?”

“We have creative where we have two people playing off each other so it made perfect sense to capitalize on that in the social sphere,” Crichton says.

The campaign runs until the end of May, with all the work running in French and English, on TV channels including CBC, CTV, OLN and RDI, and digital channels including Rogers, MSN and Autotrader.