Honda: Rhymes & Reason (Repost)

**(I'm reposting this because the comment are getting interesting)**

Honda Motors is rapping a "new" tune on the internets these days to pump up sales. They've launched a micro site called Rhymes & Reason to tell you why you should be driving a Honda. Here's a quote from the site;

"Cash is King!
I'm tired of hearing that times are hard. Cause if you think something is hard then that's what it'll be - hard. I know it sounds a little too positive for some people, but focusing on what's wrong is not going to get you anywhere promising. So why not try something new? I'm going to start..."

It seems that advertising and Hip Hop have once again found a multitude of reasons to continue to rhyme. The site features an unknown rapper by the name of Mickey Factz along with a blog, videos, music downloads, photos & all the standard fair of of promotional sites these days.

Scott Yeti, operator of the influential hip-hop marketing blog and a consultant for music labels and film studios, is skeptical about the overall impact of the push but thinks using Mr. Factz was a great choice.

I hope it works. But the creative guy in me says how could they push this idea even further. Maybe something like this. I'm such an armchair-backseat creative director. Yeah cause its real easy that way, all the hard works been done already.

Micro site here.

Muse Communications


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Unknown said...

So what do you think about minority focused sites like this? Do you think they really appeal to the audience or do they come off as enforcing stereotypes?

Craig said...

Chris, I think this site walks the line and could give us slightly more thinking on the part of the creatives. I personally believe minority focused sites, ads, marketing, etc are useful and effective, but far from perfect. We now know with great certainty that markets are found in tracts of like minds and spirits not just skin colors. The creators of this site may have missed the greater opportunity to be very African American focused with a tremendous bleed over affect of targeting this particular psychographic. Imagine if this site really mined the "underground" scene that this particular rapper is a part of and delivered or offered even more relevant insights into this world and connected them to the consumers in the "know". It could have been more organic and offer a chance for a much wider appeal into general market buyers who love Hip-Hop. Hindsight being 20/20, I don't know the sales numbers, but I haven't heard much more from this campaign or the rapper involved. If you go to the site you see like 7 blog entries and no new vid post , etc. Seems like they gave up on it.
So I can't judge all minority 'focused sites' in one fell swoop, just as you would never ask anyone to judge all sites that have a 'Country music' focus all at once. It's just a matter the work put in.

In a more direct answer to your question the sites do have a great appeal to audiences when you think in terms of overlapping interest and needs/desires. They are less effective when marketers think I want the same car as Lil' Wayne because we are both Black. Once again are they all stereotypical? Of course not. Do some enforce stereotypes? Only about as much as Axe Deodorant sites and commercial malign 18 to 34 white males. All stereotypes aren't bad. In advertising they become a shorthand for delivering a wide message in 30 slim seconds.

Unknown said...

First of all, let me retract my first comment on this topic. I wasn’t trying to say minority sites should or could be judged in “one fell swoop”; though, that’s my fault due to my lazy question. So, let me try again.

Here is what I see, right or wrong. Honda, a very wide appealing brand, is doing its effort to appeal to an African-American demographic through Rhymes and Reasons, which is a good idea if done effectively. When looking at the site, I come to a few quick conclusions.

1. The site features content from rapper Mickey Factz who raps about the economic difficulties of today. Sensibility is the soundtrack that talks about “times being hard and pay is getting lower” and the most recent blog post is on what to do with a Refund Check. It seems odd to me a car company hires a representative talking about hard times and difficulty of finding a job then speaks about opportunities ahead but the content concludes with an ad voiceover saying, “The 2009 Honda Accord: Style that Makes Sense.” Huh? How does that fit together? To me there are just so many conflicting things going on here

2. I don’t think they have abandoned the site, the last blog post was done yesterday, but to your point there is very little engagement. The reason, probably very little media spend. Minimal engagement could also be the result of discussing what a musician, who is sponsored by Honda, is supposed to do with his refund check? It doesn’t feel like very compelling, discussion inducing content. As a matter of fact, none of the blog posts really discuss any compelling topics.

So after going through the site and seeing what the team did content-wise, I’m left with a very disappointing view of Honda’s minority advertising effort. It’s not because of Mickey Factz, I actually like the guy’s sound and he seems like an intelligent issues -based artist who could’ve been used more effectively in a campaign that was more intelligent in it’s integration of the product and why it appeals to this audience. It’s funny that the tag line is all about style, yet very little of the content here is about the style Honda brings to one’s identity. Honda is typically thought of as producing bland, boring designs, yet they have a winner now with the new Accord, especially the sleek looking coupe version. Instead of focusing on style in a way that would work for today’s economy (think, social trends like Stealth Wealth or the move from bling to more understated luxury), the Rhymes & Reasons site is a confusing mess of social commentary and financial thoughts combined with a product message that is all about style. Other than some nice rims on a grey Honda Accord coupe in the opening video sequence, the style message is completely disconnected from everything else.

So, my question: Is my assessment right?

Craig said...

I think Muse put forth an interesting effort. I'd like to see the brief and get an idea of the budget too. Those unknown variables make any advertising hard to judge. They may have nailed it and given the client exactly what they wanted. Having said that, I do think you are right. They could be a little more engaging. I really miss core truths about the target and would love to see this story told differently. Conversely, Honda has made a great product for years and now has some sexy styling to boot. There is a great opp to show it off. I have an ongoing complaint about every black car ad using the word "style" as if it were boilerplate information. How could they have shown affordability and understated luxury in a new way? I'm not sure (also, I get paid for that kind of information, lol). Who have you seen do it well?