By on October 12, 2020

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?”

[Image: Honda]

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22 Comments on “Honda Dumps Nice Guy Fred Savage, Hires WWE Star Instead...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Snap into a Slim Jim!

  • avatar
    R Henry

    …the John Cena whom Ford sold a limited production GT…with the express condition it not be resold for 24 months…the John Cena who flipped it anyway…likely to pay off his gambling, hooker and/or coke bills? That John Cena…?

  • avatar
    Fred

    When I came to California about 4 years ago Ford advertised their trucks as “smart for California” compared to the “Texas tough” byline that heard before. Last night Ford used “tough enough for California” So now Honda joins the tough guy campaign.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Won’t make a bit of difference, just as Jill Wagner couldn’t save Mercury.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’m sure the switch will really bring new new Honda buyers.

    They should put 26’s on their Passport off-roader.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I csn see this backfiring on Honda.

    “Ridgeline tough…… You Can’t See Me”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’m sure I am an outlier but I always took such things as a contra-indicator. “Our truck’s so tough” to me suggests its nowhere near being tough but the people who would respond will be those who don’t need “tough” but like the idea. Those in 3/4+ ton buying class already know what tough is and they know Ridgeline ain’t it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    When I think of Honda I think of “you meet the nicest people on a Honda” and “Mr.Opportunity” and “The Cog” and Asimo.

    The aren’t quite the Ned Flanders of the automotive world (that’s Subaru) but I don’t think trying to butch them up is going to resonate.

  • avatar
    Michael S6

    Way to go Honda. Give American what they want, tough looking SUV so Honda customers can shop at Costco with pride and not be looked down on by Jeep Wranglers and Raptors in the Costco parking lot.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Toyota had decades of experience prior to Tundra’s introduction in 2007 and sells trucks worldwide. Honda did not which is why the first Passport was an Isuzu and HMC seems to have decided since then its not worth the capital to create real trucks hence this. Honda may have been better off sourcing a truck from somewhere else, but in such an event the margins are probably thinner and their reputation at stake if the truck were to be a bomb (not to mention tech training, supply chains etc). Honda may actually have a shot with a small trucklet similar to T100/Ranger/S10 but instead they want to compete in the larger truck segment where they simply cannot win. Then they go an price the thing starting at 33,6 when I can get a Tacoma double cab starting at 26,9 (28,410 with V6). Only in clown world can this make sense.

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