Honda sets safety precedent with direct-to-consumer recall campaign

The effort follows on the heels of airbag-maker Takata's recall crisis, which caused Honda to recall 13.4 million cars.

Honda sets safety precedent with direct-to-consumer recall campaign

TORRANCE, CA: Honda will kick off an initiative on Monday encouraging consumers who own its vehicles to check for open recalls and take affected cars to dealers for free repairs.

"This campaign is a strong call to action designed to break through the clutter and grab attention," said Matt Sloustcher, assistant manager of corporate affairs and communications for Honda North America. "Unfortunately, consumers do not always respond to mail notices, and it is estimated that one-third of all recalled vehicles in the US are never repaired."

The campaign follows on the heels of airbag-maker Takata’s recall crisis, which caused Honda to recall 13.4 million cars, mostly in the US.

Launching in 11 states and US territories, the effort will include full-page English and Spanish ads in more than 120 newspapers, as well as 30-second radio spots in 110 markets.

"Almost everyone knows someone who owns a Honda," one of the ads says. "If you know a Honda or Acura driver who might own an affected vehicle, please encourage them to contact us."

The ad also lists affected vehicle models and reiterates that owners do not have to pay for repairs and will receive free loaner cars if delays occur.

To reach social media-ardent consumers, Honda will unveil individualized Facebook posts with information about their specific vehicles to urge them to check for safety issues. Sloustcher said the ads on all channels are meant to speak directly to consumers and break through the clutter.

In addition to advertising, the company is incorporating tools such as videos, executive messages, and op-eds into the campaign.

Honda’s advertising agency RPA is helping to execute the initiative.  

The recall program will debut in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, with the possibility of bordering states also seeing some campaign assets.

The brand will measure the effort’s success by tracking the number of calls to its call center, the number of hits on its recall website, and the amount of affected customers who visit dealerships to repair their vehicles within a period following the campaign’s launch, Sloustcher said.

This isn’t the first time Honda has used a PSA-style approach to get a message across. Last April, the company issued an anti-texting and driving ad in support of The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Last year, the automaker handled all PR in-house when it set up separate Honda and Acura units in the US.

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