Honda is targeting a younger than usual minivan buyer in an advertising campaign that ramped up the last week of September to launch the redesigned 2011 Odyssey.
"There is a great opportunity to sell Odyssey -- and really minivans overall -- to a whole new segment of buyers with this vehicle," said Tom Peyton, senior manager of national advertising at American Honda Motor Co.
The Odyssey is the first minivan that Generation Y will be buying, Peyton said. "We keep thinking about Gen Y as this teenage group," he said, "but Gen Y is in their late 20s and early 30s and starting to move into the phase of life which requires minivans."
Honda expects new parents from that age group to help increase annual minivan sales to 600,000 by 2012. Fewer than 450,000 minivans were sold in the United States last year, down from the segment's peak of more than 1.3 million in 2000.
Honda also would like to hold onto its claim of making the best-selling minivan in the United States. The Odyssey was the best-seller in 2009 but has slipped into second place this year with sales through September totaling 79,275, behind the Chrysler Town & Country's 87,493, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Peyton said the Odyssey campaign, developed by RPA, a Los Angeles advertising agency, aims to attract new minivan buyers by saying the Odyssey caters to what young parents want.
"Everybody who looks at research about Gen Y knows it's still first and foremost about them. And even as they get kids and a family, having the world revolve around them is still more important than past generations," Peyton said.
"I think everybody intuitively gets that a minivan is safe, that it's a great kid-hauler that's very functional. And we certainly show that off in our ads. But we show how [the Odyssey] can fit the parents' needs also."
The first TV spot shows a man in his mid-30s seeing the Odyssey in a parking lot upon exiting a supermarket after a late-night grocery run.
The minivan is surrounded by 1980s-style heavy-metal concert pyrotechnics with a Judas Priest soundtrack playing in the background. Stashed in the back seat is a Marshall electric guitar amplifier sitting atop the van's folded third-row seats. A flip-down rear-seat video screen and navigation system directing the driver to "Redemption Road" highlight the Odyssey's technology.
The spot, called "Rock Van," first aired in August during the Little League Baseball World Series. Two additional TV spots, with romantic and relaxing themes, began airing the final week of September. They all will be shown throughout the fall during season premieres of TV shows as well as other network, cable and sports programs, RPR said in a statement.
The TV commercials feature the voiceover tag line "The van beckons like no van before."
TV buys will account for about 60 to 70 percent of Honda's budget for the campaign, Peyton said. The rest will be print, billboard, movie theater and digital.