Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Honda rides with Disney and HS3

Teenager to Mom: "Hey, as a reward for getting good grades, being such a great kid and having a perfect driving record, I think I deserve a really nice graduation gift. Like a car."
Mom: "Oh. What did you have in mind?"
Teenager: "A minivan. Pleeeease mommy?"

We've all seen Honda's clever Odyssey TV ad campaign that's been going on for a few years now-- hippie graphics, funky music and all. I assume I'm in the target audience as a Gen X mother with 2 kids who loathes the idea of a minivan but finds the Odyssey an attractive option, since it's not really a "minivan" per se, at least not in terms of its brand identity.

Now Honda is attracting a younger audience with its partnership as the exclusive automotive partner to Disney Pictures' High School Musical 3: Senior Year. According to Tuesday's Media Post article:
"Honda's co-branded campaign for the film, which opens Oct. 24-- includes TV spots, radio, print, and online elements. The film also features a raft of Honda vehicles, including a Honda Odyssey minivan driven by Gabriella's mother, Mrs. Montez; a pink S2000 coupe driven by Sharpay, a Pilot compact crossover and a Civic Hybrid.

The effort will include a cross-branded 30-second TV spot for the Odyssey that will run on cable networks and network shows in October, and a branded spot on the Disney Channel. One spot shows the minivan "driving" through the animated world of a Wildcats senior yearbook. A co-branded site, www.Disney.com/RidewiththeWildcats lets visitors watch videos and play a thematically related driving game.

Tom Peyton, senior advertising manager at American Honda Motor, says Honda is reprising a role it had in "High School Musical Two." "We started with Disney a few years ago when we became a partner of Disney Land," he tells Marketing Daily. "That gave us inroads to talk on other projects."

He said that while other Honda vehicles are spotlighted in "HS3," "it is primarily about Odyssey. We're trying to reach families; these are the right households for us to talk to."

And that's precisely the point. Honda and other automobile makers know that kids, tweens and teens have a huge influence over major purchases, especially the family automobile.

One other very important note: This may or may not come as a surprise, but the High School Musical franchise's core fans aren't teens. They're tweens and kids, some as young as 4 and 5. (I know this because my almost 6 year-old daughter and her friends are obsessed with all things HSM). This is the the audience that will think this whole branding and media blitz is cool. They also think (unlike the teenagers I know) that minivans are pretty cool too.

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