In the world of advertising, it's the equivalent of the Chicago Cubs winning the pennant or a Republican carrying Massachusetts in a presidential election. American Honda Motor Company has decided to hold a review of its $700 million ad account, which has been held by Santa Monica-based RPA agency (formerly Rubin Postaer and Associates) since 1986.
That is an eternity in the ad business. And ad industry professionals who have long slathered over the prospect of handling Honda never thought it would budge from the agency. The move is clearly being pushed by Michael Accavitti, who joined Honda as vice president of national marketing operations last year after a several years at Chrysler. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that Accavitti is the first outsider to take on the role at Honda in many years.
"Both the Honda and Acura brands are rolling out incredibly strong new products. In the face of a changing media landscape and a hyper-competitive marketplace, our challenge is to create dynamic marketing campaigns that connect and engage consumers with our products and our brands," said Accavitti in a statement. "The review we have initiated will lead to a strong, long-term strategic plan for our brands."
RPA had been churning out fairly forgettable advertising for Honda and Acura for a decade, until last year
RPA had been churning out fairly forgettable advertising for Honda and Acura for a decade, until last year when the agency seemed to wake up and create two pretty high-profile, high-energy ads for the 2012 Super Bowl. The Honda ad, for the new CR-V featured actor Matthew Broderick spoofing his iconic Ferris Bueller's Day Off role. And the Acura ad, for its not-yet-produced NSX sports car featured Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno.
The timing may seem a bit odd as Honda has bounced back from last year's sales falloff due to the Japanese tsunami, and also posted its best November ever; though lots of automakers are posting best Novembers because of buyers in the Northeast rushing out with insurance checks to replace cars ruined by Hurricane Sandy.
It remains to be seen whether Honda will look at having two ad agencies, one each to represent Honda and one to handle Acura. RPA is being invited to pitch to keep the account, which it must do as the car account represents almost all of the agency's billings.
Let the Mad Men start ordering the pizza and washing down the white boards.