Media: Strategy Analysis - Honda brightens the dull commute

Brand: Honda Dylan

Client: Greg Willis

Brief: Communicate the benefits of owning a scooter

Target audience: Disillusioned commuters

Budget: £100,000

AGENCIES

Media planning: Maxwell Kennedy at Naked Communications

Media buying: Starcom Motive

Creative: Wieden & Kennedy

Ambient: PD3

STRATEGY The Honda Dylan is one of the most advanced scooters around. However, sales expansion is difficult because the scooter market is fragmenting as more brands enter.

Naked's challenge was to engage consumers about Dylan in a way that reflected the product's strengths while creating a unique position in the market.

Our research showed that in the key London market, many Dylan scooter riders rode principally for functional reasons. They had little interest in "biking" as a lifestyle statement and often drove cars at the weekend, using scooters to commute in order to avoid the overcrowded and massively time-consuming public transport system within the capital.

Any relationship with the Honda Dylan brand would revolve around the scooter making people's commute less arduous. Building on this insight, Naked set about creating a campaign that identified commuter low points when the morning journey is particularly tiresome. It focused on the endless waiting at station platforms, in long queues and so on.

The strategy was for Dylan to interject and brighten up people's days.

This thought was crystalised down to the strapline: "Dylan brightens up your commuter lows."

EXECUTION

Outdoor - At key rail stations close to dealerships, every outdoor format possible - from huge banners on platforms to floor posters in the ticket office to waiting-room wall posters - was employed continually for a month.

The copy was in bold turquoise, making a striking impact as commuters bustled around the stations every day .

Telephone boxes at commuter hotspots close to dealerships were wrapped, which brightened up the journey for commuters who were queuing for buses or stuck in traffic jams.

Ambient - A fully liveried Dylan scooter with costumed rider visited every station close to a dealership, handing out bright postcards to commuters while they queued for tickets, and on platforms at rush hour. The biker also visited bus stops and stations, before visiting the dealers and handing out more postcards outside the dealerships. A total of 50,000 postcards were distributed

Dealerships - The dealers were briefed on the activity in preparation for increased Dylan prospect footfall, to drive up conversion rates. The dealers were encouraged to get involved in the communication and were supplied with postcards. They were also supplied with large posters, which they displayed in their windows to brighten up their premises in the Dylan style.

- Press Dylan partnered the Motor Cycle Industry Association for the official "Ride to work day" and ran an advertorial in the London Metro, listing how Dylan could brighten up daily commuting lows.

RESULTS

Sales increased by 160 per cent in London over three months. Honda sells a large number of bikes in London and Dylan is a key product, so this increase was off an already high base.

Web traffic also showed marked changes, with a 50 per cent jump in unique users visiting the Dylan page within the Honda website.

THE VERDICT

Sue Unerman - director of strategic solutions, MediaCom

Commuting to London is a key part of our lives, isn't it? Just imagine if your journey to work was 15 minutes down leafy country lanes, or a walk through a cobbled courtyard - how much would your quality of life change ?

However, most of us are stuck with commuting along a dirty, crowded and smelly route to work in London. The Honda Dylan scooter campaign set out to disrupt those journeys and brighten up the day for commuters.

Big turquoise and red posters, phone-box wraps and postcards at commuter hotspots certainly gave commuters something to look at. The bold creative - flame-bedecked scooters - contrasted with grey pavements, while the "dare to be early" message provided the lure of the shorter commute that many of us dream of.

The strategy - I think correctly - identifies the potential Dylan owner as someone who buys principally for functional reasons. People who dream of La Dolce Vita (or bombing down to Brighton in a parka) tend to be drawn to Lambretta or Vespa. Thus a strategy to disrupt cruddy journeys into London makes sense.

But should the disruption be a bit more about smartness than brightening up commuter lows? For a brand in the rational decision-making bit of the punter's brain, the message seems very emotional. Commuting scooter- owners tend to talk a lot about the rational benefits of having a scooter - free parking, no congestion charge. Yet the work is very big-picture oriented. I wonder if there's a bit of a disconnect here between the flame-encrusted creative and a communication strategy rooted in rationality?

Whatever my thoughts on the matter, the campaign appears to have had an effect. Naked documents a huge rise in sales. And whatever cheers up the commuters' day is welcome.

In environments where there is a significant amount of dwell time, however (train platforms or traffic-jam hotspots), it seems to me that there's room for some rational appeal to these rational consumers, as well as the emotional.

This might take you into areas such as web links to congestion charge searches or busbacks for those stuck in traffic. Anyway, this campaign touched into really rich territory, which I am sure will be built on next spring.

SCORE: 3/5.

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