LOS ANGELES -- The nastiness that has pervaded political advertising is threatening to infect the world of car advertising, Honda's top advertising executive warned.
“It doesn't build brands. It tears down others,” said Steven Center, American Honda Motor Co.'s vice president of advertising and public relations. “Anyone can beat anyone with the careful deployment of statistics of their own choosing.”
Speaking at the Automotive News Marketing Seminar here on Thursday, Center said Honda and other leading automakers have become the target of rivals' ads that no longer focus on the advertised product or brand. Instead, it has become a race to the bottom in terms of “concocted messages ... and excruciatingly parsed data.”
Honda has tried to take the high road, Center said, by avoiding “trash talk,” respecting the intelligence of the buyer and by speaking honestly about the brand. Center pointed to earlier years of car advertising of a similar vein, such as the legendary Ford “Better Idea” and Mercury “Diamond Cutter” campaigns.
“We need to protect the credibility of our voice with customers, or else we're wasting a few billion dollars a year,” Center said. “We can do better than this.”