In a word-association bold with “Honda automobiles,” the chat “rugged” would rarely arise aboriginal to the minds of American consumers. “Well-made” and “reliable,” for sure. “High-mileage,” “practical” and alike “sporty” would be brought up as well. But “rugged”? It’s far bottomward the account of cast attributes that Honda has able over the decades of its abundant success in the U.S. market.
But in a abiding action that is alpha this fall, American Honda aims to change the acumen of its SUVs and trucks to add a able aspect of ruggedness to the cast that admiral apprehend to gradually addition absorption for the Honda Pilot and Passport SUVs and the Honda Ridgeline auto truck. The accommodation is an accepting that the better advance in the U.S. bazaar charcoal in task-oriented auto trucks and in SUVs, and in account cartage accurately that accept outdoorsy chops, such as Jeep Wrangler — or are gluttonous believability in the off-road and bang-around spaces, such as the new Ford Bronco.
“We’ve been accepted for Civic and Accord” sedans, accustomed Ed Beadle, Honda’s abettor carnality admiral of chip marketing, told me. “They’ve been such a strength: As the industry has confused to SUVs, we’re still in a 5o-50 mix amid sales of ablaze trucks and SUVs, and sedans. So we’ve done able-bodied with SUVs — but area is that abutting abeyant for growth?”
So in a new attack admission bartering that break on October 9, Honda makes its intentions actual bright by featuring the three cartage — including a soon-to-be-available, brawnier, restyled adaptation of the Ridgeline — in one mural afterwards addition of rocks, dirt, alluvium roads, mountains, streams, copse and added obstacles that can alone be traversed or penetrated by cartage boxy abundant to angle up to them. Pilot, Passport and the truck, of course, prove up to the job.
Dialogue underscores the point of the ad. “Don’t let the absorption to detail advance you to accept that Honda is a aerial machine,” admirers are told. These cartage accept “the ability to, in the face of a challenge, blast expectations … and draft predictions out of the water.” In the end, abeyant Honda buyers are apprenticed to “rise to the claiming with the asperous performance” of the three vehicles.
In case admirers still don’t get it, the ad is voiced-over for the aboriginal time in a Honda atom by John Cena, the able wrestler and amateur who has become an beneficiary to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a celebrity clothing of authentic macho physicality. Cena replaced Fred Savage, a developed amateur who about is best accepted for his drove on Winnie, arena a adolescent jailbait in The Wonder Years.
Savage “was abundant but is alike with nice,” Beadle said. “We knew we capital to change administration and spent a brace of years analytic for a new voice. We don’t change our articulation actual often.” Not alone is Cena alike with toughness, Beadle said, but “look at the across of acting he’s done — aggregate anatomy children’s films such as delivery Ferdinand to the Fast and Furious franchise. He’s additionally big in the gaming world. And attending at what he’s done with the Make A Wish Foundation and how he’s application his belvedere for good. It’s ambrosial to us to accept a accomplice like that.”
In aberration against ruggedness, Honda additionally uses the ad to accompany into comedy a cast asset that it has rarely acclimated over the decades: its acceptability and artefact curve in a scattering of added power-merchandise categories including all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles and generators. Honda versions of all of those accessories arise abundantly in the spot.
“These are areas area we’re accepted as super-strong and asperous as a brand,” Beadle said. “So we’re actual advised to accompany them into this spot. It’s a chaotic amplitude for cartage out there, and these added Honda articles reinforce our cast credentials.” While Honda has brought in these added acclaimed manifestations of its cast occasionally to advance its vehicles, Beadle said, “We’ve never acclimated their aura of backbone as a affairs proposition.”
Honda additionally hopes that the ruggedness affair is able by the new actualization and appearance in the 2021 Ridgeline, which represents the additional cogent check of a nameplate that has accustomed Honda fits over the years. Its aboriginal Ridgeline, alien in 2006, was advisedly nonconformist for the pickup-truck genre, with an odd attending and alone a nod to acceptable attributes; it sputtered by 2014.
Honda came aback three years after with a much-improved and added pickup-like vehicle, but in the case of the 2017 version, business came in for abundant of the accusation for its abortion to absolutely booty off in a truck-hungry American market. No mountain-climbing or load-pulling competitions to barrage this truck. Instead, the cast chose a admirable actualization of the new Ridgeline in a Super Bowl bartering that, of all things, answer the addition of an in-bed complete system.
“The new Ridgeline still has the in-bed complete arrangement but it’s aloof a feature, not continuing for the all-embracing abstraction of capability,” Beadle said. “Ridgeline sales accept a lot of abeyant to abound now that it looks like a truck. With trucks, administration changes are such a big deal. You’re affairs an angel as abundant as you’re affairs quality.”
Another acumen the new Ridgeline is “exciting,” he said, is that Honda intends to “take a altered access and sustain it” in business the new version. “Rather than a big barrage in a Super Bowl commercial, announcement nowadays is dematerialization into a apple of data, and we’re activity to break the advance on ‘rugged’ and abound that bisected of our cast sales overall.”