Reflections on “Helpful Honda Guy” Campaign

I couldn’t recall when and where I saw the first series of the “Helpful Honda Guy” commercial, but it immediately left a positive impression in my mind. “Integration” is the first word that comes up to me when thinking of those commercials. Although the commercials run with different story lines, they share the same core idea. The main character of the commercials is always a male Honda staff dressing in their iconic blue shirt, chitchatting with client about daily stuff, helping a random customers with an urgent task that just turns up from nowhere. Instead of a bland story of how helpful the Honda guy is, the commercial always has a torch of humor by giving the commercial an unexpected ending, like what is shown in the following video clip:

Several months ago, I had to purchase a new car for myself. I wasn’t exposed to the Honda commercials anymore, but when I passed by its downtown LA dealership store, the commercial was the thing that pushed me into the store. Through lectures, I’ve been told that an integrated marketing communication should be consistent in message crafting across the media, but from my experience in the Honda dealership, the brand does lands this “integration” to the real life. The extremely warm greetings from every one working in the store, not only the sales manager that handles your deal, the sometimes seemingly theatrical smile from receptionist, sales, financial managers, even mechanics, all reminded me of the “Helpful Honda Guy” concept in the commercial. Maybe a lot of brands can do a good job in external marketing communications, but this brand definitely has got an excellent internal communications. Though astonished by those dramatic hospitality at first, I was impressed by this experience.

 

So as you may imagine, I tied a deal with the downtown Honda dealership eventually. Then I scratched a little bit deeper into the campaign. It turned out this “Helpful Honda Guy” campaign is really an “enduring” event that has been on for 7 years. Can you imagine? Seven years! For the exact same massage! The second thing strikes me is that this campaign is actually a regional campaign that is only available in Southern California area. Due to the geographic limit, this campaign was forced to intermit during the past seven years for lack of financial support from the corporate headquarter. Fortunately, it finally got back on radar again. Additionally, it just released a new set of holiday seasonal commercials that are also moderately interesting, well-integrated with the brand’s ultimate goal for marketing communications: selling cars. Well, I know I sound like a promoter for Honda, but in fact, I’m just a fan of these commercials, and of course, Honda cars, lol. So enjoy the holiday commercial here:

 

 

Reference

http://www.rohitbhargava.com/2014/07/the-underappreciated-brilliance-of-the-helpful-honda-campaign.html

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8 Responses to Reflections on “Helpful Honda Guy” Campaign

  1. apwebste says:

    I agree, Honda has done a great job appealing to the consumer as a brand on the consumer side. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kara says:

    This is such a great campaign, and I think one of the reasons I like it is because it doesn’t push a product on you. It’s creative and funny and lighthearted. Even better, is that the communication message is translated to all its’ employees as well!

  3. ugatti says:

    I didn’t know that this was a campaign that was lasting for the last seven years. Thank you for pointing that out. I feel that this a very well developed campaign because it uses something totally different to bring attention to the car. The paradox is that the helpfulness of these people may seems to be nothing to do with the cars, in fact I believe it is exactly because of this that the campaign is successful. In my opinion, getting the attention of people through something that is totally different from the product that is being advertised, is one of the most successful method because it brings the product to the customer through another angle. Instead of “hitting” the customer with messages about how great is the products, the company offers an experience that may bring the customer to the product with better attitude toward it. I hope more companies will follow Honda’s example.

  4. Jillian says:

    Hahaha, that last commercial is so adorable! CUTE. 🙂 Since I don’t live in the SoCal area, I haven’t been fortunate enough to be exposed to these commercials! Clearly, Honda’s Marketing Communications were and are effective, since it ultimately led you to purchasing a Honda!

    Your comment about the Helpful Honda Guy concept being a campaign that’s been in the running for seven years, ties into what we’ve learned this semester about the Big Idea. Great big idea on Honda’s behalf, as Honda can tie him into so many different life scenarios.

    Great blog!

  5. Verne says:

    Great post on integrated marketing. I haven’t seen the helpful Honda commercials before, but your enforcement of them is very convincing. I think the hardest part of integrated marketing is getting the non-marketing people to buy into it. So saying the mechanics are also a part of the helpful Honda marketing team is something that is essential but very difficult to do. Looks like Honda pulled it off with some really fun commercials but also the much harder organizational integration. You said you went in to verify the commercial. If the campaign had not been truly integrated, you may have an even worse perspective on Honda than if they hadn’t run the commercial in the first place. That is one of the incredible challenges of integrated marketing, not just integrating across distribution platforms, but true organizational integration.

  6. Ryan says:

    Dinah, have you heard their radio spots lately? They pick someone who needs something like their bills paid or a new oven and take care of it for them and then say “It’s our job to be helpful.” I have heard these ads a few times and I don’t know how I feel about them. I am all about giving back to the community, but these rub me the wrong way. Almost as if they are only giving to get much more in return. What are your thoughts?

  7. Kristal Shipp says:

    Dinah I had no idea it was just a regional commercial but I have watched the evolution of the campaign over the years, from the giant blue shirts to claymation. I absolutely love the newest iteration however, which takes the campaign from theoretical to reality by helping actual Honda owners with “real” real life problems. It’s the perfect progression in my opinion of the campaign and obviously successful. I wonder if it will expand to other regions since it is only a Southern California Honda Dealers initiative. I think it would play well in the Heartland.

  8. Graham says:

    Terrific campaign Dinah! This one really resonates to me because it creates an icon that can speak for the brand. I like that they dress him up in the uniform so that when I go to the dealership I will immediately see each of the staff as one of these helpful Honda guys. It kinda reminds me of Flow from Progressive talking about the special, albeit fictitious, low price gun. Part of the beauty of this marketing strategy to me is that it helps employees know what is expected of them from a culture standpoint. It also tells consumers what to expect from employees. Helpfulness: and today that may be a strong differentiator. Great work!