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2011 Honda CR-Z And 3D: How To Advertise An Enigma

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When the Honda CR-Z was announced to go into production, many motormouths watered at the prospect of a modern resurrection of the famous, wonderful and super-spunky Honda CRX, of which I was and still am a huge fan. In particular, Gen II, the Si version of course. But it is a new era and the CR-Z is the dawning of the age of Aquarius! No wait, that was a song. It’s the dawning of the age of the hybrid, which is probably right next to Aquarius in the night sky.

Actually, the allusion to the stars isn’t that far off because some have said that the new CR-Z is a bit of a vehicle whose fates lie in the stars, as it hasn’t been able to clearly lay a stake as to whether it’s a hybrid with a sporty motor, a sports hybrid, or all of the above. Or none. Seems to be a bit of an automotive enigma.

And to underscore that fact, many opinion-makers have said the same, and no less than the advertising gurus at the N.Y. Times, who published an astute article about how this car will be marketed and advertised in a market that isn’t buyer-friendly or all that crazy about a car that can’t seem to clearly be one thing or another. That having been said, Honda is trying to pitch this car as being all things to design-conscious environmentalists AND guys with sporty intentions. They make no bones about it. 

To make this car stand out in the media world, the agency handling the campaign will create ads in 3-D on television; in movie theaters; in print, in Maxim magazine; online; and outdoors, in Times Square. A nice, and unique touch and a great differentiator in a sea of car ads. It also uses the latest visual technology to show off a hi-tech car. Let’s see if it ads some 'wow' to the car’s image.

I think Honda has quite the challenge ahead of them, especially since I looked at the most recent CR-Z ad I could find, and an old one from when I was growing up and enamored with the CRX Si. Check them both out and see if you agree with my assessments.

Honda CRX ad

To be honest, I find the one from the '80s a little more on message than the modern version. The CRX Si was all about feisty fun and comparing it to a stealth fighter was a nice touch. Sure the ad is a bit simplistic, but it works. And you see the car quite nicely, despite the grainy images from nearly 22 years ago. But the message of the car and the ad are in harmony. Stealthy fun.

Honda CR-Z ad

I mentioned this ad some time ago in a previous post as one of Japan's better ones. But that was more about it being an art piece. I didn’t mention that the ad, while very cool to watch and with a cool 2001: A Space Odyssey reference with the varying colors and mystic weird music accompanying it, is trying too hard to convey coolness and that the CR-Z is two things at once. Sporty and eco. But you see the car for a total of 7 seconds in a one minute ad, and somewhat fuzzily at that. And the ploy to show the world from the view of the car was actually done better by VW. The ad pitches the various moods of the CR-Z but it seems not to do it convincingly. Take another shot at it, Honda, this is too good a car to let fade away.[NY Times]

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