Western consumers know Honda mainly for its cars - it is the #3 Japanese auto manufacturer worldwide behind Toyota and Nissan. But throughout Asia the company is famed for the motorbikes on which the business was originally built. Honda is the world's leading bike manufacturer, selling 17.7 million of them in 2016, more than three times the number of automobiles it shipped. In the car division, Honda's top models are the ever-popular Civic and the Accord, a huge hit for 40 years in America where it represents around 20% of the company's unit sales. Until the crisis which enveloped virtually all the world's auto manufacturers during 2008, Honda had demonstrated strong growth because of its emphasis on affordable, reliable, cheap-to-run vehicles. However it has lagged a little behind Toyota and Nissan in Western markets, partly because it offers a smaller passenger car range. One rare but significant misstep has been its inability to convert an early lead in hybrid fuel technology into actual sales. It aimed to make up for that error with an aggressive rollout of other hybrid models between 2009 and 2012. Honda is also a leader in what could become the next cutting edge alternative of hydrogen powered fuel cells.
Selected Honda advertising
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|Honda Civic||Honda ASIMO Robot|
|Acura Automobiles||Honda Racing|
|Honda S2000||Honda Insight|
|Honda Motorcycles||Honda Engines|
|Honda Power Equipment||Honda Finance|
|Honda HR-V||Honda Marine|
Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Jul 2017: Ads of the Week: "Dream Makers". Here's another absolutely stunning spot for Honda from Wieden & Kennedy London, utilising every iota of digital wizardry at the modern filmmaker's disposal to depict the cinematic process. This is the complete version of the ident sequence for the carmaker's sponsorship of movies on Channel 4 TV. Shortened segments from it will bookend individual broadcasts over the course of the rest of the year. We've said it before: no other auto manufacturer inspires such consistently extraordinary advertising from all its global markets. Quite ironic really considering Honda isn't in itself exactly the most exciting of brands.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Mar 2017: Ads of the Week: "Up". Seriously, do NOT watch Wieden & Kennedy London's spectacular new spot for Honda if you have a fear of heights. For everyone else, expand to full screen for the stunning full effect. It's hard to know just how much of this was shot for real on a mountain, and how much was enhanced post-production, but that's Team GB competition climber Imogen Horrocks, so she certainly knows what she's doing. Speaking of which, where are the on-screen disclaimers of "Do Not Attempt"? Or do they realise that no one would be foolish enough to try this sort of thing at home?
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th February 2017: Ads Of The Week: "Yearbooks". Yes, we know Super Bowl is yesterday's papers, but it's been a bit of a quiet week for new spots... No doubt President Trump told his friends (does he have any?) that the victory of his beloved Patriots was his own personal WIN, but there were a few other triumphs among those advertisers who hadn't already released their spots to the public. One of the best was this charming spot for Honda from RPA. Only Steve Carell was sneak-peeked in advance of the game, but the stellar line-up of other talents is pretty darn impressive. And so is the technical skill used to animate those old yearbook portraits.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jan 2017: There was proof once again that, in the media buying business, today's joy can quickly turn into tomorrow's misery. Publicis Media's end-of-2016 gains of Fiat Chrysler and a greater share of global Mars were all but obliterated by two beginning-of-2017 losses. American Honda reversed a decision made three years ago to move media for the Honda and Acura brands from indie RPA to what is now MediaVest Spark. That $600m account will now move back to RPA. Meanwhile Starcom will surrender media for Coca-Cola Company in China to a newly created unit of Dentsu Aegis Network, to be baptised Dentsu Coca-Cola Community.
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th May 2016: Ads Of The Week: "Square". Very clever effects in RPA's latest for Honda in the US, so casually deployed and so seamless and that you'd almost believe they were real. It's an ad that adds new meaning to the taunt "Don't be so square".
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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: In its current form, the company was founded just after the end of World War II by former mechanic Soichiro Honda. Previously, Honda had set up a bike repair shop in 1928, tinkering with motors as a hobby and building his first car around a discarded American airplane engine. Eventually he established a small factory, and during World War II made propellers for the Japanese airforce. In 1945, he sold the factory to Toyota, and set up a new firm converting bicycles into motorised scooters. His dream was to manufacture cheap bikes that would serve the new market of war-impoverished Japanese customers moving from their farms to cities in search of work. Business boomed and Honda began making its own motorbikes, starting with the E-Type Dream. By the early 1950s the company was responsible for almost three-quarters of Japanese motorcycle manufacturing.
Honda was quick to identify the US market as a key part of his gameplan. In 1959, the American Honda Motor Company set up shop in Los Angeles, importing Japanese-made motorcycles and targeting a clean-living, outdoors market, very different from the traditional US perception of bikers. A German outpost followed two years later. In 1963, the company branched out into automobiles, one of the last of the current Japanese manufacturers to do so, launching the S500 sports car and T360 light truck in the domestic market. To demonstrate the power of its own engines, Honda quickly established a Formula-1 racing division (teaming up successfully with the Williams and McLaren teams in the 1980s), and established subsidiaries in Europe, Latin America and Asia.
Honda launched its first US automobile in 1970, the N600 sedan, but the real leap forward came two years later with the launch of the Civic, designed to compete in the US market against Volkswagen's hugely successful Beetle. More important still was the launch of the Accord in 1976. The company sold more than a million Accords in the first four years of production. The Prelude followed in 1978. In 1979, Honda began making motorbikes in the US for the first time, followed by automobiles from 1982, becoming the first Japanese car company to establish a US manufacturing base. By 1988, the Ohio factory was exporting Accords for sale in Japan and by the mid-1990s the US factories were shipping out more than 100,000 automobiles round the world. By 2000, Honda was making more cars in the US than in Japan.
In Europe, the company set up a joint venture with Peugeot to make bikes in France, and formed an important alliance in the UK with British Leyland (later to become Rover) to begin technical cooperation. The state-owned British company had originally approached Honda in a bid to improve its productivity and quality, but the relationship developed rapidly after the UK government sold British Leyland to British Aerospace in 1988. In 1990, Honda UK and Rover tightened the bond by swapping 20% equity stakes in each other, and by 1993 the companies not only shared suppliers and technology but three out of Rover's four models depended on Japanese technology. Rover's 600 model was simply the Honda Accord with different bodywork.
But British Aerospace was tiring off the car business, still struggling to achieve more than breakeven, and attempted to persuade its Japanese partner to buy the business. Honda declined, suggesting a 50:50 joint venture. As a result BAE turned around and made an agreement with BMW instead. Outraged, Honda warned that there was more to the two companies' working relationship than met the eye. At the time BMW dismissed this as sour grapes, but the German manufacturer was subsequently forced to concede that the problems at Rover were more serious than they had anticipated.
Founder Soichiro Honda died in 1991, the same year the company celebrated the production of its 20 millionth car, and the same number of its leading Super Cub motorbike. See full profile for current activities
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