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Honda dive into the future of live advertising

Monday, 2 June 2008 — by

In a bold move that assured Honda of viral marketing success, they paved the way for a totally different agenda in the future of advertising — delivering a message by live broadcasting…

First of all, let me be clear: live advertising isn’t new. During the 1950s, for various reasons, adverts were broadcast live on a regular basis.

However, what sets Honda’s live skydive advert apart from all those before it is its sheer audacity. If anything had gone wrong, which I’m glad didn’t, I have to wonder if the advert would have been an even greater success.

There are of course varying levels of both success and failure. A lesser degree of failure in this instance might have been not being able to spell out one of the letters in the name Honda. A much greater degree of failure would have been the collapsed of a parachute.

In the world of Social Media and YouTube, Honda would have been assured of massive exposure, which I’m sure was discussed at a very high level within the Honda hierarchy. Maybe even to the extent that they had a pre-prepared message.

For me, advertising in and of itself isn’t fascinating. Where I derive my fascination is in how advertising stretches boundaries of acceptability, feasibility, credulity and just good old-fashioned fun!

And then there’s how aggressively advertising has pushed itself onto the internet, only to see the rules are markedly different and in many ways, not nearly as rewarding.

But what Honda have achieved is in raising the ante; now the other guys have to be as bold or even more so. It’s entirely possible that in the quest to be more brave and daring than Honda, someone will get hurt, but to be cynical, that’s likely going to turn more heads, get more clicks and ultimately drive up sales.

From a brand point of view, what Honda are saying is: we promised a spectacle (which they did with their build-up teaser / taster adverts) and we delivered. That’s something that instills trust in a brand which is totally separate to the products themselves, principally motor cars.

Speculating on the future of advertising is something I’ve done before, which I’d love for you to read and share your own comments on.

This recent move by Honda does slightly change things, but not massively so. I still see advertising merging into the tele-visual experience to the extent that corporate sponsorship and the content of what we’re watching are one and the same.

Consider the following two scenarios while watching Lost:

  1. An advert for GAP with some anonymous guy wearing a T-shirt.
  2. Your favorite character on Lost is wearing a T-shirt from GAP.

Which scenario is most likely to prompt you to buy? Better yet, in the days of non-linear TV, where we can pause live television with our PVRs (Personal Video Recorders), what if you could pause a live broadcast, click the T-shirt and save for later?

Taking it further, what about pausing, zooming into a pair of sneakers being worn by the lead character running for his life, and with the power of HD TV, you can see those sneakers in high resolution.

Add in a live element a la Honda, and that’s the future of advertising…

Recommended reading on the subject of advertising

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