Honda hands Starcom and Naked £24m task

Honda has brought an end to its nine-year relationship with Mediahead, formerly known as CDP Media, with the appointment of Starcom Motive and Naked to share its £24 million media account.

The two agencies paired up to defeat the incumbent and Walker Media in a pitch held at Honda's headquarters in Slough last week. The loss will be a major blow to the WPP and Dentsu joint venture Mediahead as Honda made up the lion's share of the agency's billings.

Starcom Motive and Naked will look after all elements of Honda's business, which ranges from cars to power tools. The former agency will handle implementational media planning and buying and the latter will handle strategic communications.

The appointment of Starcom Motive and Naked supports Honda's attempts to reposition the Honda car marque towards a younger audience.

Last year Honda split from CDP and The Leith Agency and appointed Wieden & Kennedy to handle its creative account.

Wieden & Kennedy unveiled its first work in April, which confronted people's preconceptions about Honda by talking not only about the things the company makes, but its approach to making them. The ads incorporated everything from lawnmowers to robots and were timed to coincide with a further campaign to support the launch of its supermini offering called Jazz, and its four-wheel drive car named CR-V.

Honda recorded record losses last year despite investing £450 million at the group's Swindon plant in a move intended to double output to 137,000 cars. Pre-tax losses in the UK deepened to £161.6 million for 2001 compared with a deficit of £51.4 million the previous year.

However, since then Honda's CR-V has become the best-selling petrol sports utility car in the UK, selling 8,000 models in the first half of this year. Total Honda car sales for the first six months to June exceed 40,000 units and the company is optimistic that September will be its biggest month in terms of sales with the launch of the new registration numbers.

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