Honda is marketing its new Ridgeline pickup primarily to current customers rather than to buyers of Big 3 pickups.
"Our first aim is not to put up a fight against the Big 3," says Tom Peyton, senior manager of national advertising for American Honda Motor Co. Inc. "Our first aim is to keep in-house current Honda owners who have needs for pickups."
Peyton declined to say what Honda is spending to launch its first pickup or how that expense compares with the cost of previous launches.
Honda will promote the pickup with a three-page foldout ad in more than 30 national consumer magazines, Peyton says. Typically Honda markets a new vehicle with a single-page ad in fewer than 10 magazines, he says.
The campaign for the Ridgeline also will include broadcast, Internet and outdoor ads.
During the Feb. 6 Super Bowl Honda teased the campaign with a TV spot.
The Ridgeline went on sale at the end of February. Honda says some dealers have a waiting list.
Honda projects U.S. sales of 50,000 Ridgelines this year.
The pickup's base price is $28,215, including destination charges.
Honda is marketing the Ridgeline to men between the ages of 25 and 49 in "better-income" households, Peyton says.
The pickup's primary competition will be the Toyota Tacoma, Dodge Dakota and Nissan Frontier, he adds.
Honda estimates that 18 percent of all its U.S. owners - and 23 percent of owners of its CR-V sport wagon - also own pickups.
"It's a significant number of customers who we think will purchase" the Ridgeline, Peyton says.
The Ridgeline print ad will run in magazines such as Field & Stream, Dirt Rider and Motorcyclist.
Magazine advertising is a key element of Honda's launch of the Ridgeline pickup.
Jim Sanfilippo, executive vice president of AMCI, an auto consulting firm in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., says the ad is a smart marketing device.
"Honda wants to put a lot of information on this vehicle out there, and print is a great way to do that," Sanfilippo says. "If they're going after their own buyers, those people are educated and upmarket."
The Ridgeline's TV campaign includes three spots that will run on broadcast networks and 40 cable networks, including ESPN, MSNBC, Fox Sports Net, Bravo and TNT. Honda will advertise the truck during telecasts of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, NBA playoffs and Tour de France bicycle race, Peyton says.
Honda is advertising the pickup with pop-up ads on 17 popular Web sites, he says. The ads provide links to sites where Web visitors can get more information about the Ridgeline.
The marketing campaign also includes billboards in 25 major markets, Peyton says.
Sanfilippo says Honda needs to establish itself as a credible truck builder because its car sales are shrinking.
In the first two months of 2005, Honda Division car sales declined by 20.7 percent from the year-ago period.
"Honda's not going to miss on this one in terms of marketing," Sanfilippo says. "They're going to make sure it works."
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