Honda explains why a Super Bowl ad is worth every dollar

Honda’s Super Bowl ad features the high school yearbook photos of celebrities like Steve Carell. Honda/YouTube

Honda is returning to the Super Bowl this weekend with an all-star ad that encourages viewers to follow their dreams.

The ad features the high school yearbook photos of celebrities including Jimmy Kimmel, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, “Magic” Johnson, Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Robert Redford, Amy Adams, and Stan Lee.

Using layering and visual effects technology to animate the vintage photos, each celebrity in the 60-second spot reflects on the challenges they had to overcome and the ambition required for them to eventually become successful. The ad, created by ad agency RPA, promotes Honda’s new CR-V vehicle.

Speaking to Business Insider, Honda Auto marketing assistant vice president Susie Rossick said the concept of the ad is built around the brand’s wider messaging and tagline “Power of Dreams.”

She said: “The whole idea behind ‘Power of Dreams’ is embedded in us from our founder Soichiro Honda. He came across a lot of obstacles in building and making Honda successful. Everyone told him: ‘You will never be able to do this,’ but he never let anybody tell him ‘no’. The ‘Power of Dreams’ is something we try to live every day. Honda has had its challenges over the years but we have kept this spirit of never giving up on your dreams, always.”

This Sunday’s game marks 20 years since Honda first debuted its original CR-V. It is also the second year in a row the automaker has advertised in the Super Bowl. Last year’s ad featured a choir of sheep singing along to Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” promoting the Ridgeline truck.

Rossick said that ad directly resulted in 120,000 “handraisers.” Honda refers to “handraisers” as consumers who opt in to receiving more information about a vehicle, such as when it will be available to buy. The company is currently looking to match back which of those handraisers actually went on to buy a Ridgeline.

But with the price of a 30-second slot at the Super Bowl rising each year — broadcaster Fox is reportedly asking for upwards of $5 million this time around — will Honda always be able to justify the cost?

Rossick said: “I’m not at liberty to disclose how much we paid. Do I think it’s worth it? Of course there’s always the feeling when something isn’t worth getting involved with, but we still value this as a great platform to introduce a vehicle. 110 million people [watch the Super Bowl on TV] and nobody turns away when the commercials run. They watch, they engage, and it’s a great opportunity to introduce our CR-V. I still strongly feel it provides a great return.”

Alongside the ad itself, Honda launched a social media campaign on Thursday — which many people celebrate as “Throwback Thursday” on social platforms — that will see celebrities from the ad and other musicians and athletes share their old high school yearbook photos and some of the challenges they had to overcome in their younger lives. Some of those celebrities will also respond to social media users joining in the campaign with advice on how they can achieve their goals.

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