LOS ANGELES -- Acura wants to elevate its stature from a premium brand to true luxury. But the recession is putting a crimp in how that creative strategy can be executed.
In tough times, shoppers tend to stick with a smart, trusted choice. But luxury-car shoppers also might be aware of the karmic penalties of showing up at work in a new Mercedes. Acura is playing up those sentiments in two new ad campaigns that debut this week.
Both commercials show a sequence of gleaming chrome luxury-car badges, including Acura's, with the shot of the Acura badge zooming out to display the entire lineup.
In the first spot, the announcer intones that Acura is the only luxury brand whose entire lineup was awarded a five-star crash rating.
In the second spot, the voice-over says that of all the luxury brands, Acura received the best-residual-value award from Automotive Lease Guide.
Both spots end with a lease-deal kicker.
The TV ads will be joined by newspaper and Internet campaigns.
The campaign is the first effort at moving Acura further upscale by RP&, the offshoot of American Honda ad agency RPA, of Santa Monica, Calif.
The agency was created last year solely to serve Acura. RP& has done several product launches, but this is the first branding spot.
Steve Center, American Honda Motor Co. vice president of advertising and public relations, says stressing practical concerns makes sense. "Given the market right now, you'd be a fool to ignore the pressures that everyone has," Center says. "This is the hardest-working 30 seconds of television."
Center knows that top-flight status does not come immediately. He says this campaign is the beginning of a "ratcheting" effort that will take as long as two product cycles to complete.