In my younger days I worked for a number of advertising agencies the most well known of which was McCann Erickson. As a result I still have a keen interest in advertising especially on television where the commercials tend to be the most memorable. Every once in a while an advert comes along that really sticks in the mind, often long after you have forgotten what the actual product being advertised was.
The famous ‘Cog’ advert for the Honda Accord was first aired on British television back in 2003. Honda has a huge diverse market in the US but in the UK the appeal has always tended to be towards older buyers perhaps with the exception of the high performance models. The creative brief for the 2003 campaign must have incorporated a section which said something like we need more mass appeal for the Accord and how do we target a more youthful aspiring and ultimately trendier buyer?
Cue the ‘Cog’ advert to the soundtrack of “Rappers Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang. The agency must have pitched the concept impeccably and how the suited Honda executives approved the advert we may never know. At the time it was a creative stroke of genius, the advert was two minutes long so the media budget alone would have been huge. Although the running time was subsequently reduced the message had certainly been delivered in style. The advert consisted of a visually stunning chain reaction of car components rolling together to create a domino effect which culminated in a finished car effortlessly rolling off a balanced trailer and coming to rest before the camera. The cleverly chosen voiceover of US author Garrison Keillor then delivered the line “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”
I first saw the advert at the cinema and was fascinated by the attention to detail. I have subsequently found out that the advert took over 600 takes to complete and utilised only minimal amounts of CGI. That was the brilliant thing about it, someone had lovingly and meticulously arranged all the individual components to move at just the right moment and it must have taken hours to set up just for one relatively short commercial. I can’t remember what film I saw but I remember the Accord advert so there’s the power of advertising for you!
Echoing the sentiments of the commercial it is nice when things work especially cars as let’s face it they are a means of getting us from A to B without letting us down. This has been the appeal of the Accord and for Honda and Japanese cars in general. Critics would say that the Accord doesn’t have the flair or Gallic charm of French cars or the sheer status of German Marques but after having once owned a Honda I realised what owning a reliable car is all about. They always start first time, mine never needed any oil between changes and it never let me down once. The trouble is you can easily take this for granted, something that I later discovered when I decided to return to a French car which although had bags of character it always managed to leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere in the rain.
The Accord has been getting people to work on time and not blowing up on family holidays since 1976 and is now in its eighth generation. Honda has developed a diesel engine which is the envy of the competition and has exemplarary standards of emissions and fuel economy which is becoming ever more important in this age of increasing fuel prices. The latest Accord is larger than its predecessors and has a high quality feel and outstanding build quality. Bullet proof reliability now comes as standard and with the popularity in the US the Accord doesn’t need clever advertising it just seems to sell itself.