Dealer Brian Benstock of Paragon Honda in New York City wasn't about to let poor consumer reviews of the next-generation Honda Civic compact get in the way of a crucial product launch.
When the car arrived in April, Benstock had his own Civic marketing campaign ready to complement Honda's marketing materials.
Benstock had his marketing consultant make a video for the new Civic, focusing on the car's 40-year heritage.
To counter the poor reviews, he touted the nearly 150 changes that Honda has made to the car over the past four years -- not just this year's redesign -- while using strong residuals to offer Civic owners the same or lower monthly payments if they traded in their older models for a new one.
Paragon spent $5,000 on the video. And it is spending $25,000 monthly for digital and traditional marketing on the Civic campaign.
The strategy has worked. Civic sales since this spring, or buyers brought to the showroom by the Civic, have powered Paragon to among the best-selling Honda new- and used-car dealerships in the country.
Paragon expects new-car sales this year to hit 5,000, up 20 percent from 2010, despite vehicle shortages this year because of the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that crimped production, Benstock, said.
Through 11 months this year, Honda brand sales fell 5 percent in the United States.
"The new Civic got some knocks from the critics so we decided to do our own campaign," he said. "It's a shame, but when Honda triples it gets booed for not hitting a home run."