Honda imagines the worst with safety-focused ad campaign


LOS ANGELES — Honda is using a “what if” advertising spot on the emotional impact of a vehicle-pedestrian collision as the centerpiece of a broader marketing campaign on its commitment to safety systems.

The campaign highlights features that protect not only the drivers and passengers of its vehicles, but pedestrians, cyclists and occupants of other cars involved in a crash.

Honda’s new TV spot starts with a worker leaving the job site as his family and friends talk about his good character — the best husband and father you could ask for, a great friend, a dedicated employee — and their presumed reactions on learning that he was hit by a car while stepping into the street.

It shifts to the moment just before impact amid the loud beeping of an automatic emergency braking system. The fast-moving car stops just in time, and the surprised driver sheepishly raises his fingers from the steering wheel.

“Collisions affect more than those involved. That’s why we make vehicles that can brake before you do,” reads the text on the screen before life goes back to normal. It ends with the tag line: “Safety for everyone.”

Honda said that with nearly 40,000 deaths from auto accidents per year, safety systems should protect all potential victims through advanced features, such as its “collision mitigating braking system” that comes with the Honda Sensing suite.

“We wanted our new Honda brand campaign to capture the type of real-life scenario that inspires Honda engineers to pour their passion into creating technologies that work toward our ‘safety for everyone’ approach,” said Ed Beadle, senior manager of marketing for Honda. “Crash statistics alone simply can’t tell the story.”

Honda will first air the spot during Friday night’s college football game on ESPN/ABC. It will then run on national cable, network TV and sports networks. In addition, a social media push next month will feature comments from Honda customers on how they’ve benefited from safety technologies, the company said.

The campaign comes on the heels of Honda’s announcement last month that it’s working with supplier Autoliv on new airbag technology to better protect the front passenger in a vehicle. Likewise, Honda announced last week that its freshened 2020 CR-V crossover will be its latest vehicle to feature Honda Sensing as a standard feature on its base trim.

Art St. Cyr, vice president of automobile operations for American Honda, said the inclusion of the safety suite on all versions of its most popular vehicle means that 90 percent of its lineup now comes with the advanced technologies. Honda has pledged to bring Honda Sensing to every one of its vehicles regardless of trim in the short term.

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