Honda, which wasn’t on the known roster of automakers that decided to showcase their prowess during this year’s Super Bowl, made a surprise hit return in an ad featuring the hard to kill Bruce Willis.
The last time Honda ran big-budget Super Bowl ads was two years ago, when Jerry Seinfeld and Matthew Broderick were asked to generate the appropriate buzz for the Japanese automaker.
“While we are in fact a leader in safety, the public doesn’t always recognize that,” Mike Accavitti, Tokyo-based Honda’s U.S. senior vice president, told reporters last week. The Willis commercial is to “communicate our leadership and begin to move the needle on that safety image,” he said.
In this year’s “Hugfest” commercial, Willis asked uper Bowl viewers to hug family and friends that they’re watching the National Football League championship game with, as he does the same with comic actor Fred Armisen. As Armisen smiles up at him, Willis simply talks about Honda having more top safety rated vehicles than any other carmaker.
Honda’s goal with the ad, which the carmaker didn’t reveal to the public before it aired in the game’s third quarter, was to “zig, when everyone else was zagging,” Accavitti said.
“Super Bowl spots are now going over the top — we’ve done that in the past and I’m not saying it’s good or bad,” he said. “Instead of going big, we’re going small.”
Honda’s low-budget looking commercial has no special effects or elaborate plot – in a serious 180 degrees spin on the other commercials released by competing carmakers prior to the game – just think about those of Jaguar, Kia or VW and you’ll get the picture.