“The unknown… It’s not an easy place to go.”
“But keep going.”
This is the deep and potent sentiment that Honda are spewing in their latest ad by Wieden + Kennedy London. The deep and calming voice of Garrison Keillor (the longtime narrator to Honda Europe) the tv equivalent of a vodka-redbull – causing your energy levels to ignite, and stabilise in 30 seconds of Honda Civic-ness. The advert tells the tale of a plucky spark of light, who breaking out of the gloom and menacing shadows of a workshop, speeds through the countryside before nearly relinquishing and re-emerging from the crashing waves. The spark eventually ends its fuel source above a shining Honda Civic, where it explodes with pyrotechnic wizardry – the presumed punchline being that Honda Civic ends with a bang, the car being the automobile outcome to the bright sparks at Honda R&D.
The advert reminds me of an Hollywood mix of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Peter Pan (purely on the character of Tinkerbell), as the advert is highly moral – essentially building on the traits of perseverance, courage and playing out an idea. As Toby Allen, the W+K copywriter on the commercial, and art director Jim Hilsona admit to AdWeek, they wanted to give some plucky character to the spark as it navigates through a wind tunnel, around rugged mountains and is nearly drowned in the sea.
“It’s an abstract visualization of how to look at the birth of an idea, how it grew and overcame obstacles in development, and ultimately about the alchemy that happens when hundreds of ideas come together,” says Allen.
I subsequently like how the metaphorical aspect to the advert leaves the audience to decipher how the resolve of an idea manifests itself in Honda’s engineering, with the spark of light being a welcome break to the wheels and dust tracks of your typical car ad. As such, the advert gears more generally to the car manufacturer as a whole, as it highlights the darkness to light route of an idea to the finished car. It also is emphatic and relatable to its audience, as it recognises that difficult dark patch of reacting to the “great unknown”. The car has got guts.