Honda is hoping a move to replicate the dealership experience through interactive online video ads will resonate with new drivers.
Its new ‘Real View Test Drive’ content suite allows viewers to watch four separate online ads for Honda’s Jazz, Civic, HR-V and CR-V models, with each having a storyline tailored around the specific model’s primary driver.
At any point in the interactive videos, which were created by DigitasLBi and will be hosted on Honda’s website as well as on YouTube, users can pause the story to get in-depth demos of features such as seating and interiors. The Civic ad also has a 360-degree video option, allowing viewers to get an idea of what it’s like to sit in the driver’s seat.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Honda’s European communications manager Louise Furneaux says a “VR experience” is the “natural progression” for future iterations of the campaign.
She says the rise of the internet means car buyers now, on average, only visit 1.4 showrooms before making a purchase, with 90% using digital platforms to narrow down their final choice. As a result, Honda had to adapt its advertising model.
Furneaux explains: “We know more and more people now make decisions in the digital environment and realised we weren’t meeting their needs with our digital content. In 2017, the purpose of going to a dealership is to reinforce a decision rather than make a decision so we wanted to bring the type of demos people would experience in a dealership into a virtual setting.”
Toyota recently claimed Amazon would soon start selling vehicles online. And interestingly during the Honda demo session of ‘Real View Test Drive’, there was a noticeable “buy now” button that flashed up on the screen several times.
However, Furneaux insists it isn’t because Honda is about to start selling cars at the touch of a button. “It’s a red herring, ignore it as it won’t be in the final version,” she urges.
‘Unknowns’ around driverless
One thing she can’t deny is the pace at which major car brands are readying themselves for a driverless society. Hyundai has pledged a market-ready driverless model by 2020 and Ford is also investing heavily in the space. There is an expectation that autonomous vehicles will revolutionise the car market over the coming years.
However, despite the fact it is currently working with Google’s Waymo division to potentially integrate its self-driving technology into Honda vehicles, Furneaux insists Honda has “nothing firm on the horizon”.
She compares driverless cars to the idea of drone delivery, in that it will take “years of legislation and social change” before it becomes a reality. She concludes: “So many things still need to be considered, especially on the legislation side.
“Urban areas are such busy environments so there’s the concern of how driverless will work around other drivers, just as there is with delivery drones and privacy. There’s still so many unknowns and things to be considered before we move in any firm direction.”