American Honda Motor Co. Inc. has signed a marketing deal with cable music channels MTV and VH1 to boost its appeal to younger consumers.
The initiative includes special TV and online content as well as a concert.
"We created a one-of-a-kind exclusive program for Honda," says John Shea, executive vice president of integrated marketing for MTV Networks Music Group, which includes VH1.
Honda is rolling out its redesigned Civic, which the company is marketing to young buyers. Tom Peyton, Honda's senior manager of national advertising, says Honda is spending 50 percent more on the Civic's advertising launch than it spent on any previous launch.
Peyton would not reveal specifics. Honda spent an estimated $75 million to introduce the redesigned 2003 Accord. The company spent $273 million to advertise in U.S. media in the first half of 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
The typical Civic buyer is in his or her late 30s to early 40s, says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing/Research Inc., an automotive consulting firm in Bandon, Ore. Previously, Spinella says, Civic buyers tended to be in their late 20s to early 30s.
The Civic was once the most popular car among young "tuners." But it fell out of favor after the last version arrived as a 2001 model, with different driving dynamics and styling and a higher price.
John Mendel, Honda's senior vice president of automotive operations, has said he considers "making Honda cool again" a priority.
Honda is spending most of the Civic ad budget on broadcast and cable TV. But it also is devoting a higher share of spending than in previous launches to the "Internet and elsewhere," Peyton says.
The 12-week campaign on the cable networks is called "Honda Civic Under the Hood." In addition to paid spots, the deal includes branded content on MTV's "Sunday Stew" and VH1's "Celebreality" and "Top 20 Video Countdown."
Honda also is sponsoring a contest on the Web sites of MTV and VH1. Visitors to the sites can enter their ZIP codes to vote for their city to win a concert by an undisclosed national artist. Consumers also can submit their ZIP codes via text messages on their cellular phones.
The community with the most votes through Dec. 25 will get the concert. Honda will help distribute a DVD of the concert that MTV and VH1 will produce early next year.