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How Honda's Super Bowl Ads Got 12M Views

  |  February 4, 2012   |  Comments

Ad agency RPA describes what happened behind the scenes.

ferris-bueller-matthew-broderick-super-bowlIt'd be easy to chalk up the viral success of Honda's Super Bowl videos to talent (Matthew Broderick) and concept ("Ferris Bueller" reprise). After all, the agency spearheading the effort, RPA, tells ClickZ that little-to-no promotion was responsible for Honda's two teaser videos clearing 12 million YouTube views in seven days. Visible Measures ranks "Matthew's Day Off" - the carmaker's long-form teaser - as the most successful viral video in the last week, edging Volkswagon's "The Bark Side" effort.

Edmund Purcell, a VP on the Honda account for Santa Monica, CA-based RPA, provided a glimpse into how the length of the 2:23 video was determined, among other details. His agency has been running digital for the car brand since 1994, he said, with a healthy focus on testing online product videos and other digital spots over the last five years.

"We have a whole baseline of metrics," Purcell said. "Going in, we knew how people consume long-form videos."

The initiative's short-form tease, dubbed "Coming Soon", was seeded on the morning of Jan. 26 and served as the launch pad for the 2:23 video, which went live on YouTube four days later. True to modern marketing form, the RPA-Honda team leveraged the brand's accounts on Facebook (1.5 million likes/fans) and Twitter (35,000 followers) by repeatedly pushing the long-form video to its earned media audience. At the same time, Matt Fiorentino, marketing director for Boston-based Visible Measures, said the :10 video was the element most responsible for the large number of views "Matthew's Day Off" has accrued this week.

The brand wasn't mentioned at any point during "Coming Soon". The mystery surrounding the :10 spot created a groundswell of interest that exploded after the activation of the long-form video, Fiorentino said.

If the short video hadn't been seeded first, he said, "I think the trajectory of views for the long-form video would have been much lower."

Purcell added, "There wasn't anything instantaneous behind [the seeding] besides PR. Because of the strong content, we were confident it would take off with a small push."

When asked what data or sentiment analysis his team would use to determine the ad's success, he didn't offer specific metrics. Instead, Purcell pointed out that "Matthew's Day Off" has produced some 26,000 YouTube likes vs. only 2,000 dislikes.

"It's safe to say that sentiment has been extremely positive," he said.

Here are some interesting facts about the Honda effort, taken from ClickZ's Thursday interview with the agency director:

  • Since there are hours of unused outtakes from the commercial's shooting, Honda and RPA plan on releasing some of the funniest moments on YouTube after the Super Bowl, extending the life of the campaign.
  • The footage was shot in Los Angeles during a week in December.
  • The decision to reprise "Ferris Bueller" was made late last summer.
  • Contractual negotiations for the acting and directing talent went "smoothly" but "took longer than average," Purcell said, as did the pre-production groundwork. In terms of the latter, he said that getting the concept pitch perfect was key. 
  • The final version of the Super Bowl commercial is :60 and was submitted a few weeks ago to NBC, the network broadcasting the Feb. 5th game.
  • The carmaker is targeting 24- to 49-year-olds, particularly taking aim at young adults and young families.

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Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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