Truth Versus Advertising: The Stereotype Game

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
truth versus advertising the stereotype game

Honda’s latest Civic may not have made a great impression on TTAC’s Best and Brightest, but the new compact isn’t targeting any one buyer anyway. As reports [click through for new ad videos], Honda’s new Civic campaign is all about broadening the model’s appeal… to five specific stereotypes.

The campaign features five distinct characters, each representing a different model. The Urban Woodsman, Jack, lives in the city but is at home in the woods. He likes his Hybrid for its great fuel efficiency, which comes in handy on his many trips to the great outdoors. The Zombie, Mitch, is a salesman who’s into high-tech gadgets. His Civic Sedan is loaded with options like Bluetooth HandsFreeLink and navigation system with FM Traffic. The Monster, Teeny, is a bubbly and studious college coed. Her practical nature and frugal budget align with the fuel-efficient HF model. The Ninja, Aiko, is cute, innocent and deadly. A martial-arts phenom who’s partial to red licorice and arcade games, she pairs well with the high-energy performance of the Si model. Cesar, the Champion Luchador, is somewhat of a celebrity. He’s handsome, charming and a bit vain so he, of course, appreciates the Civic Coupe’s sleek lines.

Of course, Honda never needed this kind of segmentation silliness (which reeks of the “brand central studios” that Bob Lutz rips in his new book) in order to make its Civic one of the best-selling nameplates in the US market. Meanwhile, the requisite price of this kind of “personality profiling” is that the mass market “profile” (i.e. the people who buy the majority of Civics) gets a short shrift compared to the smaller but sexier niche profiles. As a result, Honda signals that it sees the bulk of Civic buyers as “zombies,” with no distinguishing characteristics besides a vague affinity for tech toys. Compare this to the legendary tagline “you meet the nicest people on a Honda,” and you’ll begin to get a sense of how far Honda’s marketing has fallen in recent years…

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  • WheelMcCoy WheelMcCoy on May 10, 2011

    I found the ad confusing, but I'm sure the younger set will get it. But here's my mis-interpretation: The Urban Woodsman, Jack, carries wood in the roomy trunk of his Civic Hatchback. The Zombie Mitch, a traveling salesman, sells tons of stuff out of the spacious trunk of his Civic Hatchback. The Monster, a college coed who travels back and forth between home and campus, appreciates the folding rear seats which gives her even more space in her Civic Hatchback. The Ninja, who needs to blend in and be invisible, loves the inconspicuous Civic Hatchback which has a trunk she can live out of while on secret missions. The Champion Luchador has costumes galore and has won many many trophies which he stores in his trunk and views from the steeply raked rear window of his Civic Hatchback. Oh wait, there is no Civic Hatchback. Nevermind.

  • Ajla Ajla on May 10, 2011

    Check out what happens when these ad gurus hook up with GM: Hip new Chevy ad.

  • ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part.
  • ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
  • ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
  • ToolGuy Oh and this.
  • ToolGuy "The boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon, and Harrow have likewise announced plans to take legal action to force a possible judicial review..."But: "In Hartford, Hereford, and Hampshire... Hurricanes hardly happen."