LOS ANGELES -- The first creative work from Acura's new ad agency -- for the launch of the redesigned 2014 MDX crossover -- is an attempt to propel the brand's status from premium to true luxury.
American Honda Motor Co.'s upscale division is trying to shake its image as an in-betweener, on a par with Volvo, Buick and Lincoln. But Acura has struggled to be seen as a direct competitor to Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Launching a new version of Acura's top-volume model offers a chance to change the perception.
Enter Mullen Advertising of Boston, which in March won the Acura account over incumbent RPA and others by promising to focus Acura's message and inject more emotion into its ads.
With the tag line "Made for Mankind," the MDX campaign kicks off July 7 to avoid the July 4 retail rush -- even though the MDX went on sale Thursday, June 20.
Gary Robinson, manager of Acura national advertising and brand, called it "the biggest launch in Acura history in terms of scope and dollars ... double what we spent on the RDX."
Acura spent $39 million on the national launch of the RDX in 2012, according to advertising tracking firm Kantar Media.
The opening 60-second TV commercial may give pause to viewers who remember Infiniti's "Rocks and Trees" brand launch from a quarter-century ago. The spot shows people climbing giant redwood trees, wandering in the desert, scuba diving in underwater caves and floating in space -- not showing the vehicle until 40 seconds into it.
Backed by an echoey, ambient piano track, a female voiceover's lines are: "Man is a determined creature. No matter the circumstance, opposition, or even understanding, there is an inherent calling to seek, push, improve, transcend. It's a perpetual process, a necessity of the human spirit, that inspired our own evolution. Because if your request is to build the world's smartest luxury SUV for mankind, you must hold yourself to the standard of mankind."