American Honda Motor Co. has called a review for both its Honda and Acura brands in the USA, encompassing creative, media buying and planning.
The surprise isn’t that a review has been called. It’s that it has taken this long to happen.
Other than a few bright advertising stars in recent years, including the boffo Super Bowl commercials for both Honda and Acura in 2012, the work hasn’t exactly set the world on fire.
I don’t place all the blame on the incumbents: Honda’s longtime agency of record, RPA in Santa Monica, and rp&, its sister arm on Acura. The clients, after all, kept approving their work year in and year out. An example of the industry adage : a client getting the work it deserves. The incumbent agencies will defend their biggest accounts.
But it doesn’t look good for the home teams. There’s already some skeptics – not at the incumbents- grumbling that the review is a set-up. The skeptics posit that giant Japanese ad agency Dentsu, which handles Honda in its home market there, will manage to steer the account to its McGarryBowen agency network.
It’s never wise to discount the pull an agency has with the client at the mother ship. The marketing brass at the corporate offices of many a global car company are close to the execs at their shops in the mother land and they also, from time to time, like to flex their brass muscles to make sweeping worldwide moves.
Dentsu’s Tokyo office won a Cyber Lion in Cannes in June for the work it did for Honda in Japan. Think THAT doesn’t impress the mother ship?
This summer, Dentsu’s McGarryBowen office in London managed to win the pitch for Honda’s pan-European launch of the CR-V, besting 5 other shops, including Wieden & Kennedy in the UK. The huge win was the agency’s first since parent Dentsu changed the name of its European offices from Dentsu to McGarryBowen earlier this year. Dentsu acquired the 6-year-old McGarryBown agency in 2008.
What other agencies have won at Cannes for Honda?
Well Wieden, natch, whose most memorable Honda work in Europe has to be this UK spot called “Cog,” which won a Gold Lion in Cannes in 2003
RPA’s last Cannes win for Honda? Anyone?
Other than this year’s Super Bowl commercials, one of my favorite Honda spots in recent years from RPA was for the Element in 2006, featuring that delightful crab named Gil, who later ended up with a big life all his own in social media
This work was perfect for the Element’s young target audience and cut through the clutter.
It’s never a good time for an agency review and is going to cause lots of stress for the folks at RPA and rp&, especially during the holidays. Best of luck!
MAKING TRACKS: Joel Ewanick lands at Fisker Automotive as the acting head of global marketing and sales, while the car company looks for a full-time replacement. Not surprised to see him land so quickly. He was pushed out of General Motors in the summer after a little over 2 years at the automaker as global CMO. Ewanick succeeds Richard Beattie, who retired from Fisker after a long career in the car business with stints at Jaguar, Mazda and Ford.
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On Twitter: @jhal2001