Honda Motor Company (Japan)

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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 almost 20 million of them in 2017, nearly four 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.

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Adbrands Company Profiles provide a detailed analysis of the history and current operations of leading advertisers, agencies and brands worldwide, and include a critical summary which identifies key strengths and weaknesses. Adbrands Account Assignments tracks account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets. Subscribers may access the following website links:

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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

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd May 2018: American companies aren't the only ones enjoying the benefits of US tax reforms. Honda reported record profits for the year to 2018 as a result of a near-$3bn one-off gain. Net attributable profits soared by 59% to the equivalent of $9.6bn. Pretax income, by comparison was up by only 11%. At the same time, exchange rates gave an additional lift to revenues which rose by almost 10% to the equivalent of $138.6bn.

Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Apr 2018: Honda confirmed the appointment of Japanese agency Hakuhodo as its new marketing partner across Europe, replacing a collection of different agencies including Wieden & Kennedy and McGarryBowen. A new dedicated unit, Hakuhodo Collective, is being assembled to manage the business, with personnel drawn from its various existing operations in Europe including Sid Lee in France, and Southpaw in the UK.

Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Jan 2018: Volkswagen Group widened its lead as the world's biggest carmaker in 2017, with sales rising almost 4% to 10.41m cars and trucks. Toyota held 2nd place at 10.16m, but faces a growing threat from its Franco-Japanese rival. The addition of Mitsubishi to the Renault-Nissan Alliance puts that group close behind at 10.12m units. Hyundai Kia delivered the worst performance of any leading manufacturer, with sales down almost 9%, but held on to 4th place; General Motors stayed in the 5th spot, despite the sale of Opel/Vauxhall to PSA. Ford, Honda, FCA, PSA and Suzuki rounded out the remaining places in the Top Ten. In terms of individual brands, Toyota was safe in 1st place at 8.71m cars, ahead of VW at 6.83m units and Ford's 6.17m. However, Honda powered up two places to 5th position as a result of an 8% surge in sales, overtaking countrymate Nissan (up 4%), Hyundai slumped to 6th. Chevrolet, Kia, Renault and Mercedes rounded out the Top Ten.

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Aug 2017: Ads of the Week "Karaoke". Europe is the site of an epic battle of creativity between Honda's two main agencies in the region. Wieden & Kennedy London gets all the best jobs, but it faces stiff competition from the local outpost of McGarryBowen, which has been struggling for years to unseat its more powerful rival. Here's a lovely idea from the underdog agency to answer what must have seemed at first a rather unpromising brief merely to showcase the Honda model range for 2017 across Europe. See what the magic of CGI and a good creative concept can do.

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. 

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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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