Martin Sanders has the making of the client from hell: a head of
marketing whose entire background is in sales and finance. Trained as an
accountant, this grammar school boy from the West Country isn’t about to
go throwing Honda’s money around to satisfy the whim of agency
Indeed, he sees one of the key roles in his job as ’cutting through
agency creativity’. Questions he must constantly ask of his agency, CDP,
include: ’Are we being creative for creativity’s sake? Are we being too
However, Sanders is no Allan Leighton. Unlike the Asda chief executive,
who declared in Campaign two weeks ago that he was a ’fan of wallpaper
advertising’, Sanders wants his ads to stand out from the crowd and win
share of mind, as well as share of voice, for Honda. For this reason,
the number-cruncher turned marketing guru approved three straight
branding commercials to air in the run-up to the launch campaign for the
latest Accord (Campaign, 2 October).
The ads in question had nothing ’overt’ to sell, he points out. Sure,
they highlighted the practical use to which Honda puts its famed
expertise in technology - such as automatic switching from two- to
four-wheel drive - but, above all, they helped give Honda a warmer image
as well as introducing the ’sexy but mature’ Jenny Agutter as the voice
of the brand.
Likewise, the print campaigns which ran during the summer gave a taster
of the art work and typography used in the Accord print work. This
served not only to prepare the ground for the Accord launch but allowed
Sanders and CDP to perfect the elements before what he calls ’the
biggest launch we’ll do in a long, long time’.
Sanders, who joined Honda in 1994 as head of sales operations before
becoming head of marketing last May, enthuses about instilling pride in
the Honda brand for its owners, dealers and workers. He cites BMW,
Mercedes and Audi as the car advertisers he wants to emulate. And, in
truth, no agency could ask for a better brief from a car client.