Honda Dumps Nice Guy Fred Savage, Hires WWE Star Instead
Just like the updated Ridgeline pickup we reported last week, the rest of the Honda brand is going more macho as well. The company’s former spokesperson has been replaced in favor of WWE fan favorite wrestler John Cena.
Reported by Automotive News and a Honda press release, the company is changing its marketing tactics effective immediately. In a first run of new commercials, John Cena will explain to consumers how tough, rugged, and individual Honda products are. Honda’s launching its most important ads first, as Cena lends his voice to the 2021 Passport, Pilot, and Ridgeline.
The new marketing is part of Honda’s plan to go more product-focused in its messaging. Ed Beadle, Honda’s AVP of marketing, said that Fred Savage reflected a “nice” image, but Honda needed a change. Seeking a “sound that had more gravitas… more room to grow,” they turned to Cena.
After this initial run of utility vehicle ads, Mr. Cena will provide voiceover for all Honda commercials. The agreement with the wrestler-turned-actor includes only voiceover work for the time being, but Honda is open to other opportunities as well.
The ruggedness focus brings with it opportunities to display Honda’s depth of product. The new Ridgeline ad above showcases Honda’s generators, side-by-sides, and dirt bikes. And that’s an area where Honda can show off a range other manufacturers certainly can’t.
The official calling card of Honda is changing as well, as the two-chime doorbell used in ads since 2014 is now replaced by a drum beating. They’re tough, get the picture?
Cena is most definitely a more popular figure in 2020 than the ousted star of The Wonder Years. But will this sort of macho advertising resonate with consumers, who have long turned to Honda for beige sedans and comfortable minivans? Honda doesn’t think it will be an issue, and points to Cena’s down-to-earth image as proof.
With emphasis on being adventuresome, individualistic, and rugged at a seeming peak for the last few years, Honda is sure this new campaign will invigorate their image and make the brand exciting for new and prospective consumers alike. But I’m here to ask, “Are you sure about that?”
Snakebit on Oct 13, 2020
It won't matter if AHM hires deep-voiced Sam Elliot to talk up the new Ridgeline, the folks here in Ram, F-150, and Tundra Country (Northern Nevada) would never stop at a Honda dealer shopping for a new pickup truck. They want a real pickup, not an Accord with a short load bed. I see five or six Tundra's for every late model Ridgeline on the interstate or in the Costco parking lot. And, the sales gap between the Ram and Ridgeline is even wider. Buyers for these pickups are not fooled. Why does Honda think that Toyota went to the trouble of building the Tundra instead of a Avalon or Camry-based pickup? C'mon Honda-it's not who your spokesman is, it's the product you're building.
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