Campaign: Honda courts younger drivers with new Civic

Honda launched its eighth-generation Honda Civic in January, marking a new era for the brand. Its intended sporty, modern positioning was a priority in the company's long-term mission to lower the average age of a Honda driver (45) by up to 20 years.

Campaign From Saga to Sega - eighth-generation Honda Civic launch
Client Honda UK
PR team Brazil/Honda UK
Timescale April 2005-March 2006
Budget £80,000

To increase the popularity of Honda among 25 to 45-year-olds while maintaining its appeal for existing customers. To generate brochure requests, web traffic, test drives and sales. To increase Honda's media coverage.

Strategy and Plan
Brazil set out to position Honda as a more youthful brand by targeting the previously uncharted territory of non-automotive media. The in-house team would meanwhile keep the specialist press up to date.

The concept model was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2005 - nine months before the car hit the streets. Journalists were then drip-fed information on a monthly basis about the interior and technical spec. They were also sent teaser photos of the car in a bid to create an air of mystery ahead of the launch.

At the start of the year, the PR team went on the road with a number of Honda's in-house experts and briefed 16 of the top 20 lifestyle magazines face-to-face - in most cases for the first time - as well as much of the specialist automotive media.

The team explained the new positioning of Honda and Civic, offered exclusive test-drives and detailed bespoke features. It also flew more than 100 lifestyle, national and automotive writers to Nice for the car's launch, making sure journalists had plenty of time with it and for informal non-corporate socialising.

Once the Civic started coming off the production line, the team turned a traditionally dull photo opportunity into a wider good-news business story about the UK car industry. Business journalists, particularly those in broadcast media, were contacted, and this resulted in BBC Breakfast broadcasting live from the manufacturer's Swindon plant.

Measurement and Evaluation
The launch generated almost 100 articles in automotive media, including 11 front pages, as well as 14 pieces in major lifestyle media such as Loaded, Maxim and GQ. National press and broadcast media that covered the launch included BBC TV News, Radio 4's Today.

The PR campaign generated 15,000 brochure requests, while media share of voice increased to 16.5 per cent month-on-month over the period. Sales of the five-door Civic have reached 16,000 - higher than the number of sales for the entire Civic range in the same period last year. The car has also been voted best in category by 12 national newspapers and major automotive magazines.

Stephen Worthy, editor of the motoring section at Loaded, says: "Although the car speaks for itself, the PR company got us interested because the launch was particularly good. It let us take partners to Nice and left us to our own devices so we could come to our own conclusions."

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