This ad scares me. Let’s make it.
OK, I admit it, I’m thrilled that Honda’s The Impossible Dream is so highly regarded by Jeremy Clarkson who writes in this weekend’s Sunday Times. Making something that gets into mainstream culture is exactly what we planned and what the film has achieved.
However, he points to a sad indictment about our industry. In his opinion there haven’t been any great car ads since, though personally amongst others I like Honda’s Type R project.
His point about advertising is that it used to be exciting, just like the cars themselves, now it’s dull. Why is this? Well, few are prepared to go with the ambitious people who say I’m heading that-a-ways.
I can’t speak for car designers, though it must apply to them too, but ambition is the problem in our business. Ambition is a big risk for clients and agencies alike. Doing something ambitious scares the hell out of you, let alone everyone else. But should it? Clarkson is writing about a film and what it stands for, in mainstream media, in glowing terms, and after all these years. It is precisely for the film’s ambition that he is doing this, and to slate the new Honda Jazz of course.
So what’s happened to advertising as a whole? There’s a huge dose of fear and lack of ambition to break one rule. Back then we would write ideas with hardly a single vehicle in them. In The Impossible Dream we, the agency and our clients made a film with 13. Either way, we were breaking one rule. We broke a rule or two in everything we did, and in many different guises. The cold engineering rule? We broke that. The glamour lighting rule? We broke that. The live action rule? We broke that. The fact is, if you don’t break a rule you make advertising wallpaper and the flocked variety is pasted on pretty much every billboard, social and video channel out there. The problem is, having the ambition to break a rule isn’t easy. It’s scary as hell, but when no-one remembers your brandname or what you stand for it’s a big a risk not to.
So what of Honda? Well, when it comes to breaking a rule or two, don’t worry about them. The new Jazz aside, outrageous ambition is in their DNA.