Not so long ago, Honda was cranking out press release after press release, talking up the 2010 Honda Insight and predicting that it would trample the revamped 2010 Toyota Prius. The Insight was priced aggressively (starting at just under $20,000), and based on booming demand in other parts of the world, Honda set a sales goal of 90,000 units for the model's first 12 months on the market.
Today, Honda has dropped that estimate to a slightly more modest 60,000 -- though even that figure seems far-fetched, given that less than 19,000 Insights have been sold since the car's March debut.
Where does the problem lie? Well, having people like Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson call the 2010 Insight "biblically terrible" hasn't helped matters. And with gas stuck below $3 per gallon, some would argue that it's a tough time to move hybrids of any sort (though that doesn't explain why the Prius is outselling the Insight six-to-one). But one of the Insight's biggest problems may have been its advertising campaign -- particularly when compared to the stellar ads of its Prius rival. To date, most of the Insight's marketing has been lifestyle-focused, centering on the lives that Insight owners lead. Apart from that clever piece shot in a parking garage, none of the spots has been especially memorable, and none focused on the Insight's unique features.
According to American Honda Motor Company executive vice president John Mendel, that will change in coming campaigns, where ads will focus on the car's benefits, like its snazzy fuel-economy readout. Sounding somewhat testy, Mendel said, "Are we happy with how sales are going? No, we're not happy.... We are going to continue to market the car. But to call it a relaunch makes it sound like we did something wrong." So only meeting 20% of the sales goal isn't "wrong"?