An ad that aims to change the diesel engine's image of being noisy and dirty won Honda the top prize in this year's prestigious International Advertising Festival.
Honda's ad, titled Grrr, won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for film - generally acknowledged as the most coveted prize at the festival.
Honda's chief engine designer Kenichi Nagahiro inspired Grrr. When he was asked to design the Japanese automaker's first diesel engine, Nagahiro said he hated diesels for being noisy and dirty.
Nagahiro then developed Honda's 2.2-liter i-CTDi turbodiesel, which is regarded as one of the industry's quietest and cleanest diesel engines. It debuted in the upper-medium Accord two years ago.
Honda decided to use Nagahiro's experience as the focal point of an ad showing how things people hate can be changed.
"We thought the word hate was very powerful and that hate could be a positive thing if it made things better," said the ad's art director and copywriter Sean Thompson of the London-based ad agency Wieden & Kennedy.
The Grrr ad features the song "Can Hate be Good?" performed by Garrison Keillor, a US radio show host and author who won international fame with his book Lake Wobegon Days published in 1985.
The commercial debuted in cinemas and on TV in the UK last October but has not been shown elsewhere in Europe.
Honda's win surprised some media commentators. They felt that if Honda's acclaimed Cog ad from the same agency didn't win the coveted film Grand Prix two years ago, Grrr would have even less of a chance to take home the top honor.
Grrr scooped two other awards - a Titanium Lion and the Film Journalists' Award.
Car companies were well represented among the Cannes winners - perhaps not surprising because they are collectively the world's biggest advertisers. Automakers spent $20 billion (E16.8 billion) on advertising in 2004, according to Advertising Age.
Other winners included Smart, which won a Media Lion for the ForFour's launch campaign that appeared in Germany.
Smart's ad showed a ForFour being driven through Berlin subway's network watched by amazed train passengers.
Renault won the Lions Direct grand prix award for its advertising campaign for the Modus in Germany.
The carmaker broadcast slightly different ads at the same time on two different TV channels, and encouraged viewers to channel hop.
BMW's Mini subsidiary won a golden Cyber Lion for the brand's international website relaunch.
Volvo won a Titanium Lion and a golden Cyber Lion for an ad called Life on Board made in the Netherlands and shown across Europe and Asia. The ad shunned actors in favor of real people who were filmed talking about their lives while driving Volvos.
To view the award winners, go to .