Honda, the Drivers Car; a Work of Art

Last week I attended a guest lecture with the CEO of Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd (SBXL), and he talked about four fundamental principles of psychological marketing:

  • Attention
  • Emotion
  • Behaviour
  • Recall

It seems that if you consider these four ideas, you are well on the way to manipulating the psychological variables that can nudge people towards buying your product.

Now by that token, it might make sense to control these variables to the max, and make an advert that is bursting with emotional triggers to impact your memory, to capture your attention such that you cannot avert your eyes. To fill you with favour through appealing to your heart strings, your wallet or your other drives that it becomes so meaningful to your circumstances that you won’t be able to help running to the store and purchasing a new product.

Okay, enter Honda commercial. I watched this one and thought to myself that it was nice. It’s a bit long, and kind of quirky. Subjectively, I enjoy cars, and I have been long aware of Honda’s ‘power of dreams’ ad campaign. I believe they make a good quality car, but I am not head over heals to buy one. So it made me wonder what is the point of the ad?

Well thinking about it, the reason why it does little for me is because I am not their target market. I am a poor student, and I can barely afford to keep up a bashed up Rover 25 that’s been hit by a truck.  I’ve told myself that as far as bare essentials transportation is concerned, the car is a necessary burden. The one I have gets me from A to B (like most do), and that therefore there is no difference whether I drive an old Rover, a Honda, a Mini or whatever.

But if you can step aside from the costs of living, the increasingly short supply of fossil fuels and all the safety initiatives that dampen your fun (which I think many mid range earners can), the Honda suddenly becomes desirable. It is the drivers car, it is multipurpose and it has an air of quality to it. The a cappella sounds not only draw the viewers attention to the ‘niceness’ of the experience while using the car, but also instil a fondness to the day to day involvement with the car.

Overall, if you can get yourself into the mind-set of the average, middle income consumer, why would you not want to channel some of your surplus cash into a new Honda? You need a car anyway, why not get one that feels nicer, and which can help you pursue your dreams (to go exploring recreationally). You have to commute anyway, and this car will be an expression of your desire to get out and enjoy yourself.

Going back to my original point about attention, emotion, behaviour and recall, I felt that while watching this ad is cool, it didn’t use any of these principles. Instead, it struck me as something of a work of art. But even as all art is meant to portray a meaning, I believe this ad does convey a meaning, and to the target audience. It does instil a need for the quality, precision and nostalgia of going exploring in a Honda.