By on April 29, 2016

acura30

Acura is turning 30, and to celebrate, it’s turning its attention away from the yuppy Gen-Xers who first discovered the brand to the hopeful, car-buying Millennials of today.

It’s not pandering for vehicle sales, it’s a relationship, see?

Honda’s luxury marque just launched a marketing campaign that seems perfectly designed to lure in the largest-growing segment of car buyers. Called “30 Years Young,” the ad plays up Acura’s status as the leading luxury brand of this age demographic, while stroking the ego of the Millennial buyer.

“Sure, you used rail against authority and smoke weed while skipping the 20th Century English Lit course your parents paid for, but just because your’re weighing drapery options with your longtime partner and thinking of joining a community association doesn’t mean you’re not still an edgy individualist!”

Acura chose better words for its campaign, implying that fun can still be had after your anarchist days have waned, and that its vehicles are still part of that journey.

The Acura NSX is something to work for — I mean, who wouldn’t spend a few extra hours tweeting about “brands” from the marketing office if NSX ownership was remotely within reach — but entry-level models like the ILX tempt Millennials the most.

Knowing that, the automaker’s new ad features a silhouetted ILX getting airborne on a closed course, and it deserves credit for doing that. Frankly, all car ads would be better if it showed the model getting airborne, especially crossovers and minivans.

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89 Comments on “Acura Takes a Sepia-Toned Selfie With its BFF, the Millennial Car Buyer...”


  • avatar
    anti121hero

    Painful

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      It’s not a bad commercial visually. IMO, the commentary is what ruins it.

      Here’s a couple of Honda commercials celebrating their history that aren’t trying to rely on the “when you’re young” shtick.

      http://youtu.be/fLCEd8xk1BE

      http://youtu.be/NrQoof1F2cQ

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …acura’s learning that it’s only immortal for a limited time…

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The headline pic, instant thoughts.

    “Hey, what’s that thing?”
    “I dunno, let’s launch over it!”

    “YOU WANNA BODY MASSAGE?”

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “We’re Acura. Look at all this cool sh-t we don’t make anymore. You can have a ILX tho.”

    Pity the SLX didn’t get a shot in their little requiem to past models. :D

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Paul Delorenzo made a great point about how pointless it is to market to millenials. They (we?) are broke. If you want to sell $40K cars market them to the people who can afford them. Me personally, I’m waiting for HMA to put their upcoming 2.0T into the ILX. I would mess with it.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Aren’t you over 40, and not Millennial?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I was born in 83 so I don’t know what my category is. I’m pretty sure I am more in the category of who Acura should be marketing to than a broke millenial. I grew up with Acura and am in a position to buy a new one. Millenials don’t know Acura for anything besides being Satan’s backup birthday cake on South Park. Who is more likely to buy one?

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Right. Unless the intent is to put indirect pressure on Uber drivers to buy these and transport Millennials when it’s too cold or rainy for a bicycle, i see little point here.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      You mean Peter M. De Lorenzo, right? As in The Autoextremist? He was talking about Cadillac.

      But, he is right about Acura – they’re flailing around without a clue about how to market cars. They alternate between some guy singing in German and the cute Canadian woman rapping in her CUV, and continue to drag out the launch of the “new” NSX that they’ve been previewing for the last five years – Yaaaaawwwwnnn.

      They should fire every last person that works in the marketing department, bring back something like the Integra, and dump the stupid ABCDEFG-X naming scheme. No one really gives a sh-t about Acura anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        dukeisduke, maybe the reason Acura and Cadillac have trouble marketing cars is that their target would rather buy a off-lease used car with the brand cachet a real luxury brand instead of a new car without the brand cachet. Acura is too expensive to appeal to Honda buyers while having too much obvious Honda DNA to appeal to BMW buyers. Like Spinal Tap, the appeal of Acura is “becoming more selective”. Following the well worn path of Saab.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …nah, the helicopter children are doing fine with their hand-me-down financial security and a prime market for entry-aspirational bourgemobiles: the real question is whether anyone not living on nostalgia still buys into acura’s self-image…

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You guys totally missed it.

      This ad was pandering to people who wish they were young enough to be Millennials, not actual Millenials.

      It’s advertising… Nobody wants to act their age, at least in advertising’s fantasy world.

      “Recover your lost youth! Rebel by raiding your child’s college fund to buy an Acura NSX!”

  • avatar
    Beefsupreme

    I’m at work, so I didn’t have the volume on but just from watching it my eyes are hurting from rolling back so much.

    I love that they have all this footage of when Acura/Honda was a great brand: ITR, NSX, IMSA race cars, Comptech, etc, but they aren’t showing you the egg-shaped CUV that actually pays their bills.

    I’m also surprised that they didn’t load the ad up with meme’s and maybe a Buzzfeed reference.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Regarding egg-shaped CUVs, my girlfriend is considering buying a used MDX. It’s a little more angular and less feminine looking than an RX 350, but if I drove it, I’d make sure everyone knew that it is her car.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        nobody cares. nobody is thinking about you as much as you think they are.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          It’s true. I don’t other people car choices much thought — until they cut me off in traffic.

          When someone gets aggressive with me traffic for no reason, I use their car choice to help to construct a model of the driver’s character defects.

          Otherwise, it’s live and let live out there on the highway. :thumbsup:

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “I’d make sure everyone knew that it is her car.”

        Besides driving with some type of banner affixed to the vehicle, how would you be able to ensure that everyone knew it is indeed her car?

  • avatar
    Sloomis

    I don’t know that Gen-Xers first “discovered” Acura, we were in high school 30 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Sure, but we figured out that they looked better with polished howitzer barrel sized exhaust pipes and all the right stickers. You can steal my Integra, but you’ll never take my rice.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        +1.

        Boomers drooled over Muscle Cars. Xers over Integras. While the exact generational age cutovers may be hard to solidly fix, that’s the gist of it. And millennials? Uber and Iphones, I guess…

        • 0 avatar
          porschespeed

          As one of the *very* tail end of the boomers, I can assure you I found nothing attractive about “musclecar” dreck.

          The musclecars were primitive garbage, driven by those who couldn’t suss a fuel injector from a, well, anything. Merc made quality, Lambos, Fezzas, Masers were interesting. Wasn’t in our family budget at the time, but I knew what was actually “good”.

          Bought our first Toyota in 1977, and never bought another domestic POS post a ’79 T-Bird my old man bought because the optics were good buying ‘domestic’.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Gen X” itself covers 20 some years. we’re not all the same! I sit pretty much smack in the middle of it. I grew up in the ’80s, and we still seemed to be steeped in muscle cars as a holdover through the Malaise Era. It wasn’t until the early ’90s where sport compacts started taking hold. This kind of broad-brush thinking is the same reason marketers can’t figure out how to sell anything to their “target” customers. It’s why Scion targeted the “youth market” but sold a ton of xBs to old people.

      FWIW when I was in high school the only person I knew with an Integra was my sophomore English teacher.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    It reminds me a bit too much about a middle-aged man who sips beer and watches television all day talking about how great he is and pointing to things he did 20 years ago but hasn’t done anything interesting in a while.

    But at least it’s looking in a different direction than this “Dinner for Two” monstrosity that made me realize the Honda/Acura I loved in the 90s was truly dead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvxHSbw3wnY (Also, dudes like that should never say “Jammin\'”).

  • avatar
    B.C.

    I ended up at an Acura dealer recently when my wife needed to use the nearest bathroom. There really isn’t anything they sell that I’d take over … say, a Camry.

    Wife: can we really just go in and use their bathroom?
    Me: I’ve owned 5 Hondas and Acuras … I should be entitled to use their bathroom at least.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Seinfeld is a visible supporter of Acura (and vice versa). @B.C. — for some reason, you remind of George Constanza. :)

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      I had a fascinating experience when I visited a local Acura dealer a couple of months ago. I wanted to poke around and possibly test drive a TLX and at least check out an ILX. No s#!t, there wasn’t a single car in the showroom. I can’t make this up–there were only multiple MDXs and RDXs in the showroom, not even one “flagship” RLX.

      I ended up test driving a TLX (had to walk out to the lot to even look at one). Terrifically disappointing, not sure why I wasted my time. It drove like a sinking Boston Whaler, and there was absolutely nothing about the finishes that distinguished it from a Honda.

      ETA: 21 year aggregate Acura owner. Ended up buying an IS300 which I’m completely in love with.

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        Is that really surprising? Those two CUV models sell more than their entire line of cars combined.

        Sounds like a dealer who knows his product and his customers.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          The 2016 Civic Limited* is so nice, I’m not sure that there is a way to bring it upmarket to make it an Acura. It’s there already.

          * Considering one as a stopgap for the 100-mile commute my wife is starting, until Tesla builds us our Model 3.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “Sounds like a dealer who knows his product and his customers”

          This is true, but it is an interesting turn of events that a customer who wants something interesting to drive rather than stodgy and conservative found it at the Lexus dealer and not the Acura one.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I wanted to like the current crop of Acuras, I really did. But they look and feel like Hondas with slightly nicer leather, plastics and carpet, because that’s exactly what they are.

    What a pointless brand. At least Buick, which also has no rational justification for continued existence in the United States, has its own style.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Millennials won’t actually buy Acuras, but they’re trying to make their product a more aspirational good and telling everyone else the Acura driver is someone bourgeoise and privileged. College educated, indifferent to privilege of attending a liberal arts school on your parent’s dime. So the 40 year old buys it because it’s a lifestyle statement and not a luxury good or conspicuous consumption, which is way taboo.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’d certainly like to buy a new Integra GS-R but I’ll settle for a new Civic with a turbo.

  • avatar
    Fred

    It hurts me to hear all this bad mouthing of Acura, but I still like 2014 Sportwagon, beak and all.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      2012 TSX Wagon here. I like it too… It’s the last of the Acura old school line up. Acura’s current lineup doesn’t interest me… I’m just not their target demographic anymore. But I’m still hoping Acura succeeds.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Here are the vehicles my millennial friends and I go snapchatting and gastropubbing in:

    Charger RT, Silverado Crew Cab 6.2, F-150 3.5EB, Lincoln MKS, Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Rav4, Toyota Tacoma, Kia Sorento, Kia Sedona Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6L, Honda Pilot, Honda Civic sedan, Saab 9-3, Hyundai Veloster, Ford Explorer 4.6L.

    What does this tell me? Not much. Although it seems like the people in my social circle hold much closer to gender stereotypes than to age-related ones. I bet everyone could guess which vehicles I listed above are owned by women and which are owned by men.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    All this making fun of Acura appealing to the youth market is hillarious when you realize they have the lowest average age demographics of any luxury brand. Why not play up your strengths?

    Love the “just feels like a nicer Honda” comments. When has this not been true? Even the Legend, with no similar-sized Honda product at the time (in our market), still felt, and looked, very much like a “nice Honda”. Remember, even “Acura-exclusive” products like Legend, Vigor and Integra were sold elsewhere (especially in Japan) as Hondas. The TSX was a Euro-market Accord.

    Acura has room for improvement, but its not like the current lineup is not adhearing to the formula they started with in ’87. Why this is supposedly terrible now but great then, I dont get. I do realize that cars like Integra and Legend were far more different than what one could find in a North American Honda dealership in the 80s/90s, but the “nicer Honda” feeling was just as strong then as it is now.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’m having a hard time finding demographic data newer than the 2013 MY, where Infiniti, Land Rover, Audi, BMW, and Tesla all had younger average buyer age than Acura, which itself was only 5 years younger than Lexus buyers. If Acura is now appealing to younger buyers, I wonder if it is due to their low cost of entry as opposed to offering anything fun to drive like they used to.

      The tarted-up Honda argument doesn’t move me, but the dullness and compromises of the ILX and TLX certainly do. Acura simply does not offer anything appealing to someone who was drawn to those Integras and Legends, or even the TLs and TSXs of less than 10 years ago. It’s just a dull uninspired brand with no identity that carries a price premium. Hondas no longer feel leagues above the competition, it takes more to make a luxury brand than being a nicer one with available AWD on some models.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I really fail to understand the point of anything Acura makes other than the MDX, which I guess is “fine” if you’re looking for something nicer than a Highlander, but you can’t swing the cash for a Q7 or XC90. I suspect at least some MDX owners have convinced themselves that they’ve gotten something “basically the same” as the Audi or Volvo, for a big discount, when in reality there’s a discount for a reason.

    Other than that though, the entire lineup is pretty much a big bag of failure. The ILX is basically awful, and with the brand new Civic out which is a nicer car in most aspects, and better looking as well, it pretty much has zero reason to exist.

    I don’t get why anyone buys the TLX. You can have this nice V6 Accord, or for a few thousand more, you can have this Acura, which is basically the same thing, except the electronics are worse, it’s more boring to drive, and instead of a perfectly competent autobox, you can have a less powerful four cylinder paired with this new DSG that we’re going to beta test on you. Don’t worry though, we’ll probably have most of the bugs worked out by year 3, because at Honda we have a fantastic track record of rolling out new transmission designs. Oh wait, did I say fantastic? I meant the opposite of that.

    No one buys the RLX, so it’s not even worth mentioning, and the RDX is just rolling blah, a great way to get less for less. Half the features of the other guys for most of the price! Yay?

    • 0 avatar
      mtmmo

      I drive a ’16 TLX v6 (company car), my previous co car was ’15 Accord V6 EXL, the difference between the two as daily drivers is significant. The TLX interior quality is definitely better however the biggest difference is how quiet the TLX drives. My TLX is as quiet as any Lexus I’ve had and certainly on par with my wife’s ’15 E400. With that being said I personally would never buy a TLX but it’s a great company car and highway cruiser. I average 35 mpg at 75mph w/ the AC on. Not too shabby for a 290hp V6 sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        Davekaybsc

        If Acura couldn’t make a car nicer inside than an Accord for closing in on $40K, they should just turn off the lights and go home. That’s a pretty low bar to clear, the Accord has never been particularly luxurious inside even by mainstream family sedan standards.

        The quietness is also something that it took Acura 30 years to figure out. Their cars until very recently had quite a lot of road noise, always a Honda weak point, and the ILX still does.

      • 0 avatar

        You mean as quiet as Toyota Corolla?

  • avatar
    MWolf

    I’m an “early” millennial (born mid 80’s). Acura doesn’t interest me. The most interesting things they did by my standards are the Vigor, NSX, and Integra, and even those (with the exception of the NSX) are still very “Honda” to me.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love cars, but Acura just doesn’t make anytging all that great right now. Maybe the new NSX will be cool, but out of reach of most.

  • avatar
    John

    Memo to automakers: there are not enough edgy urban hipsters in the USA to buy all your products. There are not enough people who wish they were edgy urban hipster in the USA to buy all your products. Many real edgy urban hipsters in the USA don’t aspire to own automobiles, and/or don’t have enough money to buy new automobiles. You might want to consider marketing automobiles to: the elderly, the middle-aged, and the younger unhip.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      The automakers don’t need your “memo.” They got the memo they needed a long time ago. Which was “people on the internet don’t actually buy the things they claim they’ll buy, so we can safely ignore them.”

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Agreed.

      I pointed out that people don’t like to act their age in advertising fantasy world, but I’m quite happy to act my age in real life.

      I have two kids. I drive a minivan. And I’m comfortable with that. I even like the “responsible parent” image. Maybe its because I failed to peak in high school, and have been consistently getting better at life every year since. Which is why I have the confidence to act like the 37 year old dad that I am.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        What is the responsible parent image? Must it include a minivan? Can a responsible parent drive a Mini? How ’bout a Golf R? Can corvette or Porsche drives be responsible parents? Can you be a responsible parent and drive a Wrangler or a Ram?

        What is acting your age and maybe more importantly, what isn’t? What activities are age appropriate and which aren’t? Is there a certain car you must drive? Or not drive. A certain food you must eat? Or not eat.

        If one takes care of one’s family and cares for one’s friends. Tries to be a good citizen and a good person overall, what else is there?

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          It’s an image; it’s not an engineering spec sheet.

          From an engineering perapective,.my minivan is really damn good at the jobs I use it for. But a parent with different needs would drive something else. Four or five doors are a must for getting small children into their carseats every day (which eliminates the Corvettes and many Porches) – and the rest comes down to lifestyle. The minivan is a.much better match for my lifestyle than any of the cara you mentioned.

          But, yeah, I look like more of what people think if as a parent when I show uo with the minivan than the guy who shows up in a GT-R. Doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with reality, but I’m comfortable with the image and find my van far more useful than a GT-R or a Mini Cooper.

          I’m happy to allow my car choices make me look my age.

    • 0 avatar
      Spartan

      John, spot on.

      I’m a married millennial with kids, so I’m the younger unhip you speak of. We have an XC90. I would have bought us a minivan, but the wife and I prefer lux cars and they don’t make lux minivans….yet. If Lexus had a minivan in their lineup, I would be one of the first in line for one.

  • avatar
    Fred

    TTAC: how about a poll on car commercials good and bad
    I’d post this in the forum group but it’s not working for me.

    ps I vote for Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I posted a couple of Honda commercials above that I thought were well done. To me, some Audi commercials are good, others are kinda insufferable with the anti traditional luxury theme they like to use.

      I’ll nominate VW. For the most part, I’ve always enjoyed their commercials and felt they’re very well done.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Acura has the lowest average age b/c they hardly sell any at higher price points (see RLX sales) and have increasingly been reliant on CUVs (mom-duty) for sales.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    As the guy that has bought 3 new Acuras and currently owns 2, let me “defend” the brand to some extent. I’m also an old millenial (born in ’82). First off, the usual criticism that Acura is “just a nicer Honda” always cracks me up, because, for a large part, that’s exactly what Acura customers want. A reliable, relatively feature rich middle of the road car/SUV, with a badge that says they can pay 10% more than their Honda-driving neighbors. And in the meat of the market (MDX/RDX/TLX) it works pretty well. The RLX is a dud, like Acura’s entry in that segment has been for about 20 years, and the ILX stumbled hard out of the gate but improved somewhat, and should improve more when the updated one based on the new Civic is released.

    For me though, what is hard to understand is how people see Acura come up as a big loser against its realistic competition.

    For the $35-40k I might pay for a TLX, what can I buy?

    -A micro “fake” German like the CLA/A3/pending FWD 2-series that is still going to approach $50k equipped like a TLX Tech and fall apart right out of warranty
    -A stripped 3/C/A4 without any of the stuff that’s to be expected at this price, plus terrible running costs if you keep it over ~60k miles
    -A Lexus IS or ES, which are sorta too sporty or too floaty/old man, plus they’re both about 10-15% more expensive loaded up. And that grill.
    -An Infiniti what’s it called, which is probably a nice car but who can keep it straight, and still, $50k with the features required.
    -A comically small ATS
    -A Buick, except who wants to admit they drive a Buick?
    -Various luxed-up versions of lower-end cars, Fusion, Accord, Camry, Sonata, 300, etc, which are indistinguishable from their lower-end brethern

    What else am I missing?

    I’ll be honest, I’ve driven a couple TLXs, and they don’t knock my socks off. But neither does anything else in the above list. I’ve got a hard limit of $40k I’m not willing to go over, which basically rules out anything from Germany that isn’t a VW. I buy, not lease, and I keep longer term than any thinking man wants to own a German car. And I don’t mind that a designer label Honda fits in a little better with all the leased Lexus/BMW/MB/Audis in the local parking lots in a moderately affluent town.

    I get that for a lot of enthusiasts, a stripped out BMW or Audi sounds better than a fancy Accord. But out in the real world, where it’s all bumper to bumper and surface streets and crap, I don’t get much out of the Germans to make up for the missing equipment (Automobile just tested a $50k M235i long term that didn’t even have BT streaming or a real aux-in on the stereo!).

    In the real world where real people buy real cars and spend real money and expect them to really work, being pretty good in the $30-40k range is no bad thing. It isn’t sexy, but for the segment of the population that isn’t willing to pay inflated German prices or doesn’t want to lease, Acura ain’t exactly a bad call.

  • avatar
    jrasero23

    I can’t stand the so called “Acura Loyalists” or the people who scream for only manual cars that resemble the RSX, Legend, or Type whatever. Acura in the beginning captured the younger market because simply they were affordable drivers cars, similar to what you see in modern Mazda’s. It is true the average age for an Acura buyer has risen because tastes have changed. We don’t live in this racer tuner boy Fast and the Furious culture anymore. People (majority) like being isolated from the road and to be coddled and they demand the appointments in an Acura you would find in a BMW. The problem was Acura was never about “luxury” appointments or even end all be all performance. People have this false sense of what Acuras were like in their heyday.

    I will admit Honda/ Acura as of late have had a hell of a time differentiating their two brands, but so has a lot of the car industry. The 2016 ILX is the great example of this. It got a refreshed 8 speed 2.4 liter DCT V-Tech engine that loves to rev and that would have been perfect in the original 2013 version, but some auto journalists thought the ILX was too loud for a luxury vehicle. Yet loyalists are always screaming how Honda is neutering their car with hiding their exhausts and no revealing engine noise enough. Acura also gave a ton of tech from safety to performance starting comfortably bellow $30k and plateauing at $35k, yet people still clamor that Acura has lost their way form be a tech value drive car company.

    I will admit it’s hard to praise Acura when their interiors, styling and performance are so close to Honda’s at times. The 2016 Civic Touring is simply a great value in what you get compared to the ILX and even can run with the ILX. The Accord besides having a CVT and no AWD is pretty much 90% of a TLX. The RDX while having an exclusive V6 has an interior that is on par if not worse than a CR-V. The 2017 MDX luxury wise is a step above the Pilot and does offer a hybrid model but the MDX and every other Acura product does not offer Apple Car Play or Android Auto, why!?

    I am not asking to jump from a Chevy to Cadillac quality, but I am asking give us something more. optional AWD on all models, standard base motors and transmissions better than any Honda, standard tech, and Acura stop caring about capturing the youth market, it’s called inspirational for a reason.


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