Breaking Creative: Choir for Honda

Courtesy of wieden + kennedy london, a preview of their new spot, Choir, for Honda.
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And, Bonus Coverage via video podcast (iTunes Link).

On Friday 13th January, Honda launches its latest TV commercial “Choir” – a 120” live action spot to launch the new Honda Civic produced by Wieden + Kennedy London.
Following hot on the heels of the Honda “Impossible Dream” brand campaign, this spot shows a specially formed choir vocalising the many experiences one has whilst driving the new Civic.
The 120” commercial will run solus for one week and will then be supported by both a 60” and 40” cutdown. A website and interactive TV application will support this activity and a national press ad will run in motoring press. The TV ad is also believed to be the first by a UK advertiser to be available as a Videocast. The ad, along with a “making of”, will be made available as a downloadable Videocast from the accompanying Civic microsite as well as Podcast and Videocast sites.
The commercial was shot in both Spain and England. It was written and art directed by Matt Gooden, Michael Russoff and Ben Walker. It was directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet at Parizan. Communications planning is by Naked Communications and media planning and buying is through Starcom.

About Shawn Hartley

Creative technologist by day. VP at Corporate 3 Design in Omaha. Proud father and husband.


  1. well that was extremely long and painful to watch. wieden and kennedy london seem to be disappearing up their own bottom!

  2. I’m not ready to condemn the ad so quickly, but it does lack a compelling reason to buy. I guess that’s what happens when you set out to make art, instead of advertising.

  3. I’m a Honda owner and a big fan, but I wasn’t blown away. As the old cliche goes, couldn’t you just throw any car logo at the end? Doesn’t every car sound like that? I also didn’t care for the “overexplanation” at the beginning…”This is what a Honda sounds like.” Um…yeah…I think I could have figured that out.

  4. Indiana Gividen says:

    Um… yeah…you could have figured it out but 90% of the viewers would not have.
    Most people ignore comercials or change the channel. Delivering a compelling reason to buy does not mean a thing if you can not get them to watch. They did not set out to make art. They set out to entertain. And in doing so they created an opportunity to improve the brand image.

  5. I tend to agree with Indiana’s comments.
    One of the things that has seriously bugged me about advertising over the last 10 years or so is the immediate question about what any piece of advertising is going to do about sales. What happened to advertising as brand awareness? What happened to advertising intended to communicate with an audience at an emotional level. Advertising not necessarily intended to inspire sales NOW.
    When it comes to cars, it isn’t rocket science on what it takes to sell cars. GM, despite the financial difficulties, proved yet again this past year that incentives will always drive sales on cars – but in doing so, sold their soul for money.
    Yet the biggest compaint I hear from creative staffers is that they don’t get the opportunity do ‘creative’ work. They rarely get the chance to convince a client to take a chance on something.
    At, David and I usually receive around a dozen submissions each week via the tip line for previews on new work (and we always encourage more submissions). In my opinion, and most of those in my studio today, this spot has a quality to it that stands above a lot of the work being done these days.

  6. I agree that the spot is nicely done, but I favor work that has a brand attribute at its core. And I don’t see that principle at work here.

  7. They need a Part II comercial that says “this is what a Honda sounds like after three years,” and then the sound of lots of coins hitting the floor. Don’t people buy Hondas for resale value? Or is that just Toyotas?
    BTW, here in Indy we had a new radio commercial out for beer about being a runner. I wonder what you guys thought of that. It kept my attention, and I don’t even drink beer.

  8. The more I think about it, the more I see this is exactly how it was when I taught middle schoolers for one year.
    First you had to entertain them. Then hope you could sneak in a lesson somewhere. After one year I was done. It was really bad pay for being an entertainer.

  9. The majority of WK’s Honda work has been nestling between brand awareness and sales. Indeed from my knowledge a key part of the campaign was to improve the lacklustre brand image Honda had.
    I think the late great John Webster put it well when he said that people dont ask to see your adverts. So do something to entertain or charm them, and they are more likely to listen to you. And WK’s Honda adverts do just that.

  10. Contrary to what some people here have said, I think the ad is amazing. One thing that many people have forgotten, is that people also make emotional purchases, and something that moves you will many times make you buy something, even if it’s completely irrational. It “lacks a compelling reason to buy”? Like what…? like big fat copy that says “0% DOWN!!!”? Sure, some people make desicions based on things like that. But imagine what all advertising would be like if all advertisers had that mentality.
    Nike didn’t become the brand it is today by saying “buy our shoes, they’re well made”. They opted for image and emotional appeal. Ask them if it works.

  11. Why would a customer buy a Honda over a Toyota, Ford Vauxhall?
    They’re both reliable and have the same build quality surely? This is where WK’s legendary brand building comes into play…
    People assume a car will take them from a to b but what is more important is post-rationalisation i.e. backing up why you bought the car when you go to the pub with your friends.
    The ads are creating a brand personality which is distinctly missing from Vauxhall and somewhat Ford although ever present with Volkswagen and soon to be Honda.
    Watch out Toyota!

  12. Nike’s “Just Do It” image campaign works from the core of the brand and brand attributes are delivered in each execution. It’s classic material in every way.
    I don’t see the same level of insight at work for Honda. Another car could be used in this spot. The spot’s not enough about Honda, for me to praise it.
    What is it about Honda that makes owners delight in their purchase and their daily to and fro? I once owned a Honda and I often miss it. Why? One thing I loved was the roominess of the car’s design. So there’s something to be explored. I also loved the trustworthiness–another vein to mine. I’m sure W+K explored all the avenues, but I’m not clear on where they landed.
    What great insight into Honda are they delivering in this extremely well produced spot?

  13. I’m sure, like David Burn said, W+K explored all the avenues when it came to brand attributes. But part of their job, is telling people what the brand attributes are, and not just reinforcing the established ones. I think they are more on the process of *building* the brand, than following established or perceived attributes. The fact that hondas are reliable and trustworthy, is something that nobody doubts. It is my belief (obviously I haven’t seen the brief, so this is an assumption) that honda didn’t feel a need to reinforce that brand attribute, as important as it might be. However, what they might have wanted to do instead, was to position and differenciate themselves from other reliable, but bland car companies (toyota, etc.). Many companies use reliability, roominess, status, etc. in their advertising. Honda wouldn’t be setting itself apart by doing the same. Honda is redefining its attributes.
    I don’t believe that the ad was done without any great insights. I think the insight of “This car is fun to drive” and “it’s engine is a work of art” are valid in trying to shift the brand’s position without harming the way the brand has been forged in the past.
    I’m not saying this from the point of view of an advertising professional. I’m saying this, from the point of view of a consumer who has never owned a honda and never had considered them because I had never felt a connection with their brand; that is until now. I’m starting to perceive that honda is “different”, passionate about making cars with personality, which is something I never perceived before.

  14. I asked, “What great insight into Honda are they delivering in this extremely well produced spot?”
    Carlos answered, “This car is fun to drive and it’s engine is a work of art.”
    I’m almost ready to buy it, especially the second point. Lots of cars are fun to drive, but only a few can honestly claim their engineering has transcended science and become art. If that’s what a potential buyer gets from the spot, it doesn’t matter what was in the brief.

  15. To those who say this ad missed it’s mark:
    I would have to disagree. First of all, the sheer artistic quality of the ad is wonderful. Second, for those who say it provides no reason to buy, I would argue again. I enjoy a relaxing drive, and have certainly been known, on occasion, to make long trips without any music whatsoever for the sheer thrill of hearing the sounds of the road. As far as I’m concerned, they nailed it.
    It says to me that, “‘a’ to ‘b’ is taken care of, but the ride itself is the real experience.”

  16. clearly the ad will break through the clutter. but these days people are avoiding the clutter entirely. so that is no longer the problem.
    buying a honda is a rational choice. nobody fantasises about honda, let’s face that. so one has to question the wisdom of building “emotional” equity in a brand so resolutely grounded in reason and practicality.
    i apologize for my earlier comment, which could have been construed as flippant. but it was my honest reaction. nonetheless WK London must be applauded for their daring and executional prowess. and at least they are not polluting the cultural environment!

  17. How cool was that!?! I would totally buy a Honda after watching that comerical. Too bad they couldn’t show that comercial in the US, because I think it would be a big hit!

  18. all time happy happy

  19. Fantastic advert, but I have to agree with the comments about brand awareness. Obviously it’s got people talking, so it’s worked in that sense, but who actually remembers that it was Honda? I certainly didn’t. Audi did the advert with all the carefully placed car components knocking each other over in a domino effect, which was very arty, but that worked because it screamed “precision engineering” which is what Audi is all about. Honda isn’t about noise or choirs.

  20. Steve,
    you are right. Honda is not about noise or choirs. In the last 16 days I just took my four year old honda on a 6500 ride-over the mountains, through the woods, to the beach, and back again. It was sweet, but not a choir pitch. It’s about so much more and so much different.
    w + k you need to talk to real drivers, even if they are old ladies.

  21. As an American, I had the delight of recently seeing this advert while in the UK and liked its creativity so much that I’m looking it up now to link US friends to the ad.
    As for the car commercial mentioned above, in which “all the carefully placed car components knocking each other over in a domino effect…worked because it screamed ‘precision engineering'” –that ad wasn’t Audi: it was Honda.
    I think that that “rube goldberg” ad and this Choir ad both capture a spirit of Honda that simultaneously reinforces its engineering reliability (rational buyer) and presents the company as hip, artsy, human, and just plain fun (emotional buyer). I’ve never owned a Honda (though I’ve desired one), and these two ads have put them squarely on my radar for future purchases.
    If nothing else, the advert has spawned fascinating conversations like these here, and has thereby achieved the best that any ad can hope for–word-of-mouth awareness of the company and product.