By on January 12, 2009

Honda has launched a new series of short films (well, they say they’re short) about the importance of failure. Not giving up. Kicking out the ladder then lighting the building on fire (WTF?). Surrendering your life to Sochiro at the Temple of VTEC. Something. “Ultimately, we hope these films will intrigue and inspire people by giving them a look into Honda’s unique philosophy—that impossible dreams can be realized through determination, creativity and hard work,” pronounced Todd Carey, associate creative director at RPA, without disclosing what he means by “ultimately” (time delay zen?). But if you’re looking for an endlessly annoying piano riff (are they going to trademark those two notes or what?) or someone talking about how cool it is that they weren’t fired for fucking up, this is the series for you. To be fair, it’s beautifully shot and all the Honda employees speak from the heart. And remember: corporate culture eats executive strategy for lunch.

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19 Comments on “Come, Worship at The Church Of Honda...”


  • avatar
    schhim

    Whatever anyone thinks about the company now, you gotta admire how the company started. One man who wanted to do what he loved against all odds. I’m going to drive my S2000 now.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    someone talking about how cool it is that they weren’t fired for fucking up,

    The trick is that they knew they fucked up before you caught them fucking up.

    Even better when they come to you and cop to it before you find out. That’s good culture. Obviously, there are limits, but when people take risks, they sometimes make progress.

    Kicking out the ladder and lighting the building while just an expression, does separate those who can do, from those who can’t.

  • avatar
    Johnson Schwanz

    It was worth it for the Danica Patrick spot.

  • avatar
    autonut

    1) Executive strategy defines corporate culture. Try to have decent corporate culture if your company is ruled by Wagoner and Lutz

    2) During Sochiro days in the office Honda was competing with BMW and wasn’t loosing during competition. Unfortunately, his legacy does not hold water with current management at least from automotive point of view. In robotics and aerospace they are definitely became force to reckon with.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    autonut:

    Forget BMW, the NSX bettered Ferrari for half the price, with significantly better technology (aluminum monocoque vs. welded together steel sticks). Unfortunately it does look that that might be the past.

  • avatar

    schhim:
    Myself and my ’03 S2000 will join you.

  • avatar
    pariah

    Just to clear things up a little bit:

    The metaphor doesn’t say anything about lighting the building on fire…that wouldn’t really make any sense. The expression mentioned in the video was “Send them upstairs, take the ladder away, then set fire to it.” It being the ladder, not the building. In other words, set high standards for people (“send them upstairs”) and remove any incentive for laziness or underachievement (“kick out/burn the ladder”).

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    It’s enough to make me track down an old Civic and toss in a B-series VTEC motor. Annoying fartpipe noises be damn’d.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    I gotta go give my CBR a hug for ol’ Soichiro.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Soichiro was THE MAN. I like the company too. They’ve been too conservative for a while but I still have faith in them.

    Now give us back our F1 team – we can forgive two garbage years if you do more than just give up and withdraw.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    1-no jokes about (1949 bicycle-moped struggling along the runway at 15 mph with Hondajet taking off overhead ) “born from strap on tiddler moped engines”?

    2- I sweat with dizzy desire for NSX, even a 15 year old one. Same for S2000 which is more attainable and likely. One more year on 99 Miata then there I go. Whichever I can afford on clean unmolested low mile example. I promise to drive the NSX like the up-time museum piece it is. I would beat on the S2000 a bit. Well maybe both.

    3- Only Honda I do own is sitting on an MTD lawn mower chassis, bought at Wally World. Odd but true.

    4- I remember a convincing article interview of a middle age guy, a talented GM plant manager/Product manager type guy who got hired to US Honda and was kindly remonstrated by US Board for his presenting to them that they approve some piece of crap he was advocating like GM would approve. They told him he was new so he would be OK that time, but they are serious about doing what they say is right to do, and would he please get with the program please like they knew he could, and they gave him a return date for a revised presentation and product plan. He was then truly converted. I bet he cried to sleep that night.

    5- I wont say US Honda Board has lost its way but I wish they still pursued performance niche.

    6- What I really want is for Yamaha to make cars for Europe and sell them here.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    I’d like to hear the story about the massive automatic transmission failures in the late 90s to early 2000s. That’s one of their biggest failures of all time; I hope they learned a lot from it. Some learning from the 6speed manuals that pop out of 3rd gear would be nice as well.

  • avatar
    doktorno

    Looks great in the ads, but the Honda Jet still does not have FAA type certification. Hopefully the alliance with GE turbine division will result in a proper hybrid, with a gas turbine to recharge batteries.

  • avatar
    f8

    I have yet to see any cool commercials or short films from GM. Or Ford. Or Chrysler. Well, any cool marketing from them at all for that matter. There was one good Corvette commercial (with flying Corvettes and kids) and that was aired like once or twice.

  • avatar
    mistrernee

    @carlisimo

    Without a race in North America there is no reason for Honda to be involved in Formula 1, especially with the market the way it is.

    I wouldn’t be at all suprised if Toyota isn’t far behind them.

  • avatar
    Andras Libal

    @mistremee and @carlisimo

    I agree with carlisimo. Mistreme, if they only care about N America, you’re right, few people care about F-1 there, but if you look anywhere else in the world they care a lot.

    How can you expect us to believe this: “intrigue and inspire people by giving them a look into Honda’s unique philosophy—that impossible dreams can be realized through determination, creativity and hard work” when you give up and bail from the queen of motor sports. That is nonsense. Toyota did not bail. And their reputation is not even on sportiness. Anybody who wants to have sports creed has build it and has to prove himself on the racetrack. Any racetrack, but the more demanding, and the more publicized, the better. As far as I’m concerned Honda is off the radar in that field at the moment. It just took itself out of the equation just like Ford did when it let Cosworth die.

    Commitment and hard work and dreaming of impossible, and being a car company that gets into F-1 and gets ahead and wins more and more and progresses and makes a better machine every year. There is such a thing. Sadly for Honda, it’s called BMW.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Andras Libal:

    So when is BMW’s F1 involvement going to allow them to make a Z4 as good as the 10 year old S2000? Even the new redesign won’t be.

    In 2007 F1 banned any engine changes or development until 2013; that’s probably boring to a company that calls itself an engine company. It sounds a bit like NASCAR.

  • avatar
    Hondaphile

    Commitment and hard work and dreaming of impossible, and being a car company that gets into F-1 and gets ahead and wins more and more and progresses and makes a better machine every year. There is such a thing. Sadly for Honda, it’s called BMW.

    Er, yeah. A quick review of BMW’s reliability history tells me that they are miles behind Honda for quality. In fact, until about 2006, most BMW models could be in competetion with VW and Mercedes for the worst quality carmaker.

    The culture that the short films talk about is what compels most Honda buyers to buy Honda. You endevour to buy into something more than just a car – you buy into an ideology. That’s something that the most cherished car companies have – BMW, VW, and Merc included. Something the domestics no longer have.

  • avatar
    Andras Libal

    Thanks for your responses. BMW just announced they will not run in F-1 from 2009 as this year’s results are below their expectations. Also it is likely that KERS technology will not continue in the sport – so they lost the interest of developing hybrid technology as well. I am surprised by this decision. I thought BMW would stay and fight in the long run until it gets to the top. It would be ironic if next year the abandoned team would be a serious contender to the title, as Brawn-Mercedes (the abandoned Honda team) is this year.

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