Early critics inform Crosstour's rollout

American Honda Motor Corp. launched the 2010 Accord Crosstour as a premium extension of the Accord brand, with a particular eye on appealing to empty nesters.

Company: Honda
Campaign: 2010 Accord Crosstour launch
PR team: Internal
Launch: November 20

Objective
American Honda Motor Corp. launched the 2010 Accord Crosstour as a premium extension of the Accord brand, with a particular eye on appealing to empty nesters. “The vehicle was built around that buyer who is in that sweet spot in their life when their kids have left for college and they don't have grandchildren yet,” said Christina Ra, PR manager for Honda.

Honda 2010 Accord Crosstour launch Internal November 20 American Honda Motor Corp. launched the 2010 Accord Crosstour as a premium extension of the Accord brand, with a particular eye on appealing to empty nesters. “The vehicle was built around that buyer who is in that sweet spot in their life when their kids have left for college and they don't have grandchildren yet,” said Christina Ra, PR manager for Honda.

The launch, however, hit a snag when early photos released of the car proved unpopular with consumers. So just prior to launch, Honda began to work more aggressively to highlight the positives of the five-person vehicle.

Idea
Honda's market research indicated that Baby Boomers like easy-to-drive, roomy “crossover” vehicles that are more sedan than SUV. Honda planned to showcase these Crosstour features with press and interactive outreach.

“We knew buyers wanted something that provided utility for their active lifestyles and newfound time and disposable income,” Ra said. But given the turbulent economy, the team opted for a “tame” launch that would primarily focus on informing its core media and fans simultaneously with press events and through Facebook.

Tools
After some consumers criticized the pre-launch pictures released on Facebook, Honda sprung into action. “We developed new photography that was more comprehensive,” says Ra. “We scanned comments and found several key concerns that we addressed in a note on Facebook.”

The team also held events in Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York that allowed core automotive media to meet the engineers and designers, as well as test drive the cars. In addition, it conducted a webcast that was pitched to consumer media.

Measurement
The November launch will be supported by an ad campaign early next year. This is a lower-volume vehicle than most Hondas, so sales will be also evaluated. Additionally, “Our learnings will help us reevaluate how to best use social media” for launches, Ra said.

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