By on February 11, 2010

Despite spending $264.1 million on measured media in the first 11 months of 2009, up 16.5 percent from the year-ago period [per AdAge monitoring] while sales fell nearly 27 percent, Automotive News [sub] reports that Acura is upping its 2010 ad spend by 50 percent. According to Acura’s advertising boss Steven Center, Acura’s awareness levels have been consistently high, but consumers didn’t perceive it being as prestigious as other luxury brands. By boosting advertising of new products like the ZDX and TSX Sportwagon, Center hopes to close the gap with the premium perceptions of its German competitors. Center explains:

Our messaging for years has been too ill-focused and not about the product. The ads weren’t making the point and the point is: What is it about Acura that makes it better? We want to have the emotion of BMW without the hardware,

You know, instead of being seen as higher-content, uglified Hondas. Yeah, more advertising should help with that.

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64 Comments on “Acura: All We Need Is Advertising...”


  • avatar
    ott

    Only one reason the public has a lower opinion of Acura: No RWD.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If that was the case, then Audi would be in trouble as well. They’re not.

      Acura’s problem is not the lack of RWD or a V8. The problem is that they no longer have an inexpensive on-ramp into the brand. Acuras sold well and were well-respected when the “true” heart of the brand was still being sold.

      No, not the NSX, the RSX/Integra.

      The general public couldn’t care less about rear-drive and V8 power, even in this market, but they do care about how Acura has no compelling products, especially at the low end. The TSX and RDX are nice and all, but they’re not appreciably less expensive or better than their competition, and they’re more than entry-level buyers can stand.

      The RSX, for all it’s faults, was a fun-to-drive car that didn’t cost a lot and lured many, many young, affluent (or to-be affluent) buyers into Acura showrooms. Those buyers would move to the TL or MDX when their RSX lease was up; now those RSX buyers are looking at Mini Coopers, VW GTIs, Imprezas and the like, or getting into incentivized leases that allow them to squeak into a 3-Series or G.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Audi also has had high performance cars with turbo’d awd v6s and v8 awd.

      However – selling lesser expensive cars in a “luxury” brand would only help increase volume but not prestige of the brand. Acura doesn’t know what it is or should be and that is squarely a fault of management. It all starts with good looking styled product and a clear brand image (Acura keeps jumping around from changes in styling, whether it will be green or performance or luxury oriented).

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      The “public” doesn’t care what wheels are driven for the most part. Get real. The fact that Acura is uglier and more expensive than a Honda, with no more perceived value is the reason they are not well loved. That and the fact no one can figure out what car is which when they dropped using real names.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I’m with the ‘regular folks don’t give a shit (or know) which wheels are driven.

      Ask bmw owners in NA which their cars are and 1/2 will give you the blank stare.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Ask bmw owners in NA which their cars are and 1/2 will give you the blank stare.

      + 1/2. I think the ‘blank stare’ proportion is close to 1/4, but it’s disgusting none the less.

  • avatar
    night driver

    {woman in thought}

    ?

    {sees power plenum}

    @!#[email protected]!

  • avatar
    photog02

    How is this commercial different than the Buick commercials of late? The more I watch this Acura spot, the more similarities I see between it and how Buick is trying to position itself.

  • avatar
    MasterOfTheJawan

    “but consumers didn’t perceive it being as prestigious as other luxury brands.”

    When the public’s image of your brand is ghettofied fart can FATF Integra rice burners,,, “less prestigious” is an understantement.

    Honda has to figure out how to copy Subaru. Subaru’s WRX rice boy image has zero effect on it’s earthy-crunchy psudo enviromentalist image that appeals to Forester and Legacy owners and vice-versa. Honda needs to learn how to copy this split-steriotype technique.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Notice how for most of the clip’s duration they just show the girl and not the product. I don’t blame them, the product is ugly and the girl is not but it really should give you pause when even your own ad agency is trying to keep your product out of the shot.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      So true. The guy’s complaining about how “ill focused” Acura’s advertising has been in the past, then he runs an ad that that mostly consists of a closeup of a woman’s face with music playing. To promote a car. Clueless.

    • 0 avatar
      photog02

      You can tell she isn’t even looking at the Acura; the question mark would have preceded by a “WTF” if she was.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    The problem isn’t advertising, it’s product. Acura, and Honda too, has some of the most ugly products on the road right now. Secondly, while I’m not against FWD, or AWD, not offering a true RWD luxo barge means Acura has nothing to compete aginst the 7 series or E class or LS.

    I think Acura really needs to focus themselves, and Lexus (not the germans) is the brand they should be competing against. The RL, while a nice vehicle, isn’t even up to the standards of a Lexus GS, let alone flagship level. The TL is probably just as good as your average ES, but the ugly factor kills it. The TSX, again ugly, but also is no comparison to the IS.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      A good model for Acura to go after would be the Cadillac CTS. Not too big. RWD. And they could use their good V6 engine. And they would have to get their styling sorted out – not the current “over-statements’.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    EEK! MY EYES!! ARGHHH!!!! HOLY SMOKES is that ugly!!! That commercial is in heavy, heavy rotation in Los Angeles…but my mind always “tunes out” when it comes on….I actually thought that it was a shampoo commercial, ha ha…

    I fondly remember the last integras of the late 90s…They were solid, they felt like they were carved out of a solid chunk of granite…the seats were firm and supportive, the engines were zippier than the more common Hondas, the cabins felt airy…you could even get one with a MANUAL TRANSMISSION!!!!

  • avatar
    h82w8

    I say ol’ chap, the “Zed-ex” amounts to…naught, and therefore will be “ex” before you can say “Bob’s your uncle.” Cheerio!

  • avatar

    Parent Honda should decide whether they want a luxury brand or not and then act accordingly. It is obvious they are starved for development dollars.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    The only way they could have made the ZDX uglier is if it were larger. Lousy name too. They can advertise all they want and they still won’t sell products as poorly executed as this.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The ZDX is the pinnacle of what’s wrong with Acura. An ill-conceived idea with incredibly awful styling that is impractical to boot. I tried to sit in one of these at the auto show, and it is actually difficult to get into because of the high and huge door sill blocking entry to the driver’s seat! This is Acura’s Aztec.

  • avatar

    It might help them be taken more seriously if they actually had oh, I dunno, a RWD platform instead of rebadged Hondas . . . . or a flagship car that actually made sense rather than being merely more expensive than the mid-range car . . . . or anything compelling?

    Their best toy is the 2.3L VTEC direct-injected turbo. Put that in a TSX, give it SH-AWD, make it a coupe and voila – halo car.

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      They’d put a 5AT in it, just to kill the buzz though ;)

    • 0 avatar

      Why does everybody repeat the “No RWD, No chance” mantra ? Acura’s natural competitor is not BMW, Mercedes or Lexus but Audi; another company who re-skin mass market vehicles and have only FWD or AWD platforms. Audi make their money from marketing style and finesse which is a lot easier target to hit than trying to out compete the world’s ultimate driving, luxury or coddling machines. Acura should leave the wacky styling to their punky sibling, forget about trying to compete on performance, luxury or features, and just produce some stylish, competent and well built vehicles which 99% of Audi buyers would consider just fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      Actually, the A3 should be AWD and just be done with it.

      Acura has good AWD but it’s not like it’s always an option.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Audi has v10 and v8 halo cars and some wildly turbo’d v6s with a rwd biased AWD systems.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Acura lost the sales battle with Mercedes and Lexus 15-years ago when it killed the Legend. It briefly took a shot at BMW-3 buyers with the previous TL, but its gone too.

    Infiniti has eaten Acura’s lunch. And I know buyers cross shop Infiniti and BMW because I have talked with some when my Infiniti is being serviced.

    People who look at Acuras seem to be mostly Honda owners looking to step up. I used to see them in the showroom when I still went to the Acura dealer for service. Regardless, you have to be into ugly in a really big way to look at a current Acura.

  • avatar
    Turbo60640

    I’m somewhat surprised that Acura has survived. I think I’m also the only one who likes the look of the ZDX.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    “I Know! The reason our sales are in the can has nothing to do with the product, but is purely because we are not telling you about how great our car is!”

    Saying the same thing only louder and more frequently does not onvert people to your cause. Product, Product, Product! 1. The cars are butt-ugly. 2. Almost nobody wants to pay RL money for what appears to be a TL. 3. Almost nobody wants to pay RL money for a V6 front drive car. 4. Lots of people forked over for the last generation TL. Many of those people got crapped on by their transmissions.

    Honda gives us nothing here. None of its cars is a great value, it is not a compelling high-end car, it no longer has the bulletproof quality and duribility reputation it once had, and it is not a fashon must-have unless you are really into Tim Burton.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      And they made the TSX bigger and put a V6 in it. They already had a V6 car – the TL. Leave the TSX as an entry level premium 4 cylinder car. With the coming CAFE, 4-cylinder cars are going to be in greater demand.

  • avatar
    Ernie

    Acura is confused about it’s market . . . WHO are they selling towards?

    They used to be about “fast and fun” with high quality thrown in. The prices have gone up, they all but eliminated manual transmissions (before the TL came back with one, only the TSX had one on the low end) and their interior space is just sub-par.

    NOW they’re offering an RDX with no AWD to try and scrape up a few people from the RX crowd . . .

    The MDX was a fine, dignified looking vehicle before the facelift . . . the previous-gen TL was the nicest looking sedan on the market (okay, under $50k) and they haven’t had a coupe in years . . .

    ———————————
    Let’s face it, Honda wants to BE Lexus and get the oohs and ahhs of BMW.

  • avatar
    threeer

    They lost me when they gave up the Legend. I drove my uncle’s (no longer owns) 2003 TL…sigh…pretty much a slightly gussied up Accord. And while style is highly subjective, sales figures don’t lie. People just aren’t beating down the door to own them. Heck, when it came time to buy a replacement for the TL, my uncle jumped the Honda mothership and bought a loaded Avalon. Those old Legend coupes were sweet…even the first gen!

    • 0 avatar
      Ernie

      Acura has been trying to distance (differentiate?) themselves from Honda for some time. The parts used to be a lot more interchangeable before the TSX and newer TLs came along.

      I think the loss of the RSX was the true beginning of the end for them.

      Their current price point just is too much to justify.

  • avatar
    ott

    To recap…

    Lexus: RWD
    BMW: RWD
    Mercedes: RWD
    Audi: RWD

    Acura: Nada.

    –Case closed.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    There was a time , say 20 years ago , when Honda actually listened to the customer, and took their comments to heart. Back when Acura had names for their models like Legend, Integra,Vigor , they stood out from the crowd.Today they really are “uglified Hondas” and it seems to get worse every year. “RL” being the biggest loser , and that Acura snout is something nobody loves, yet they decided to carry it over onto the full line.WHAT ? Do they want dealers to fail? Is selling fewer cars the goal? That’s how they act. Honda is just a nano second of bad luck away from being in the spot Toyota now finds itself in. It seems arrogance at the top of Honda and Toyota is doing just fine these days.They some how filter out all but”good news” , and the system moves along ,until one day they are the next GM. Acura Aztek would be a better name for their new Acura version of the Crosstour. Honda couldn’t care less what we think.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I don’t know if it’s ugly that’s killing Acura. BMW was thriving through the Bangle period.

      I’d go with the disjointed model evolution and name changes. They’ve gotten fat and slow witted – and Lexus has that market wrapped up. Infiniti seems to have the ‘cheaper BMW’ thing going with the Gs, so now Honda has to find some niche that isn’t already defined by a competitor.

      This same stuff is getting said about Honda – they need to get back to lightweight, well engineered, progressive and fuel efficient cars. The market’s going to be moving back that way with CAFE and future fuel price increases.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Strangelove

      “Back when Acura had names for their models like Legend, Integra,Vigor , they stood out from the crowd.”

      Let’s see. To help stand out from the crowd – Acura Viagra. How does that sound?

    • 0 avatar
      FromBrazil

      Well FWIW, Bangle BMWs had an “artistic” quality and ethos to them that appealed to some (not me). And that whole artsy thing lent itself well to many BMW buyers (especially newer ones) who felt that, again, the whole “atrsy” thing gave relaevance to their purchase. “yeah it’s ugly, but it’s art. You don’t understand”. Not to mention that the world was experiencing unprecedented wealth so many badge lovers all over the world were able to give in to their dream, all ugliness aside.

      Now, I’m no expert, but the Acura is just ugly. Ugly design. No art or credo. Ugly for shock’s sake (to grab attention, force you to look).

      Design is a fiddly beast though. The new crop pf BMWs (the 3 the possible exception – and the least “bangled”-, the 7 the biggest example) look possitevly boring in comparison to the last generation. Sigh! Never thought I’d say that, but maybe the contrast is just too big.

  • avatar
    the_gamper

    In my opinion, Acura tried to capture some of the success Cadillac had with creating a distinctive design language for its cars. True, Cadillac may not be the best inspiration in terms of sales, but one thing for certain is that a Cadillac can be easily identified as such wherever they may be.

    Acura managed to pull off the distinctive part, but with the wrong effect. Honestly, I think Honda’s experiment has gone horribly wrong and that Acura will have to reinvent itself again with new designs in the near future. I think most of the current Acura lineup would look considerably better by simply deleting the huge chrome bucktooth. Thats a start.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Agreed. They mistakenly assumed “different” was “distinctive”. The current design language is overdone. Cadillac went overboard years ago (think 1959) but that was a different time.

  • avatar
    ott

    Scratch the Audi… It’s FWD or AWD. My mistake…

  • avatar
    ott

    @ psarhjinian:

    –Good point!

    Though Audi is and was only a near-luxury brand in my books (just like Acura), I included them in my list as an afterthought. I’m somewhat less-impressed with Audi now though, to learn that even their A8 flagship comes as FWD or AWD. A true luxury sedan starts with RWD in my opinion…

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    30 second commercial, car is in 10 of them.
    Good ‘improved’ advertising there Acura.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Acura’s problem is that the marketers (styling) and bean counters (content) are running the company, as opposed to engineers (efficiency, craftsmanship, feel), which is kind of a result of Acura being an American sales arm of Honda taken to the extreme, merkin style.

    Full disclosure: I had a 90 Legend coupe cloth stick that I loved and now have a 01 CL-S that I like a lot. I guess I would get a ~04 Accord if I had to replace it? Or maybe a Saabaru?

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Not a great commercial, but my wife and I both think that this is indeed an interesting looking vehicle. I saw it at a recent auto show, and thought it was better looking than I had been lead to believe. (Not so the Crosstour, though!)
    Interestingly, I had shown my wife an add for this car in a magazine, and she did not recognize the car on the TV add as being the same vehicle.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    to be fair, Audi is the lesser out of the German makes because they don’t have an RWD company bias… yes I know they make the R8…

    and didn’t any feel that that comnment was just a tad pathetic… they want “BMW emotions without the hardware”

    how is that possible? or even honest?

    Lexus don’t have the “emotion” (whatever that is) and yet they at least try with the content!

    Honda is pathetic.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Honda is pathetic.

      Honda is profitable. Don’t get me wrong. They have issues (like Acura).

      The Fit is fine (if pricey). The Civic and bloat-Accord aren’t my cup of tea – but they work for many. For Acura, I guess we’ll see if horrible styling can actually fix a brand.

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      so what if Honda are profitable? So are Hyundai/Kia

      do you wanna buy their cars? i doubt it

      if ‘profits’ are so important to them, why are they so adamant they want some of the “BMW emotion”?

      why not just stay the ‘profitable’ course and make the same stuff they are making now?

  • avatar
    meefer

    I don’t think Acura has to try and take on the rest of the luxury brands, but they need to create a brand identity. They used to be known as safe cars that didn’t cost a bundle upfront or at the pump.

    Then they got all huge V6/AWD/buttonitis and it got ruined. V6 TSX? Four foglights? Three cars that use the same engine? If they killed the RL and moved the TL upmarket it might have worked, but now all their models play in the same sandbox and it’s a huge mess.

    Hell I’ve been jonesing for an NSX since I was 14 and I might have to buy one made when I was 14 to get a decent Acura sportscar. Heed the design philosophy of your ENGINEER founder: maximum man, minimum machine. A ZDX is neither of those things.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      “People” clamored for a V6 in the TSX. They got one and the TSX was made into the TL. Where does that leave the TL? I said for some time if you wanted a V6 in the TSX, they already made one – it’s called the TL. The RL is redundant (and very expensive).

  • avatar
    George B

    It used to be that Acura was an expensive Honda with better styling and more power. Sales were actually pretty good for the good looking 3rd generation Acura TL, the 2004 – 2008 model.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_TL#Third_Generation_.28UA6-UA7.29
    Should be obvious that the problem with Acura is the damn beak/shield grill plus size and price bloat, not lack of a RWD platform. Can’t convince Honda buyers to pay a big price premium for a more ugly Acura version.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Maybe Audi is what Acura would like to emulate in sales and the huge difference IMO is the styling. To me Audi has some very good looking cars and Acura has none. As mentioned, the Acura front end looks horrendous competing in every respect with the Mazda 3 for the worst looking front end styling in the market.

    Audi also has a defined brand and Acura has anything but that. Overall Acura’s model line up I think is the worst of any brand sold in the U.S.

    Honda needs to go back to the drawing board and start at square one and it surely isn’t because they’ve not had enough time to get it right.

  • avatar

    The worst part is that if they had proper product they could totally step into the void of Toyota troubles and at least siphon off ES/RX sales. But they just aren’t in the right position. I anticipate a lot of ES buyers looking for something that isn’t there and RX buyers to maybe go Audi Q5.

  • avatar
    healinginfluence

    I have owned two Acuras. I now drive a MB. In my opinion, Honda hasn’t succeeded with Acura as it hoped because Honda’s heart has never been in making a luxury car. Honda believes in economical 4 cyl engines. So when Honda decided to make a luxury car they started with that and made it nicer. A true luxury car needs to be designed as such from the beginning.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The tell. The 30 second commercial spends 16 seconds focused on a pretty girl.

    The ZDX is a Crosstour with the patented Acura “Angry Veg-O-Matic” grille.

    My advice to Honda. Fire everybody who had anything to do with Acura’s current line up. Then decide if you want to have a second line of cars. If you don’t want to fund it properly and do a good job with it. Shut it down.

  • avatar
    Giltibo

    As a Honda Fan, I am extremely PO’d at them for making this horror called the ZDX. It LOOKS like a good idea… until you try to access the back seat. I am only 5’7″ and I had to contort to get my head inside this piece of garbage. With my butt on the rear seat cushion, the roof rail is bumping with the middle of the back of my head and once inside, my head is stuck to the ceiling. This is a VERY large vehicle so if you can’t fit at least 2 adults comfortably on the back seat, you are DEAD in the water. (I drive an ’08 Accord Coupe and its back seat is more comfortable in every way than the ZDX’s – except maybe for legroom but not by much)

    WAKE THE [email protected]#$%^&* UP HONDA!!!!

  • avatar
    AlexD

    ad: “the four door coupe concept from Acura”

    I got cut off by a mental representation in traffic today. Who writes this stuff? Or maybe they have no idea what to call this thing.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    the NSX is like the Audi R8

    it’s a dream machine that is so divorced from the rest of the range it sells itself

    eg. the Nissan Skyline GT-R… it’s NOT representative of any Nissan

    i don’t like Honda, i don’t even like 3.0 v6s in any form

    but the NSX – I love it!

  • avatar
    brettc

    What in the hell is that thing? Couldn’t Honda leave the Crosstour alone? I don’t think anyone (except the voices in their heads) asked them to take a Crosstour and make it uglier and more expensive.

    IMO, Acura sells so few cars because their cars selection sucks for what you pay. There’s no way I’d ever buy a chromed up expensive Honda with an automagic. That’s what a regular Honda is for. The Integra and Legend were cool cars at the time. Then HAcura abandoned them and gave them all stupid names. I know that Honda knows about keeping established names, so why did they drop their popular model names and go to letters?

    The TSX wagon might be okay if they actually just sold it as an Accord wagon. I can’t see that car doing well in the U.S. I think they need to give up on it and just concentrate their resources on making a full range of great Hondas.

  • avatar
    segar925

    Acura lost its focus years ago & has been going downhill ever since.
    Flagship identity was lost with the Legend’s passing and styling of the current lineup is bizzare. Some heads should roll at Acura before the whole division goes down the drain.

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