In one of the ruder things I’ve seen an automaker do in a while, Honda announced Friday that John Cena would be the voice of its new ad campaign. Cena will replace Honda’s current voice Fred Savage because Cena is tougher than Savage or something, which is weird because Savage’s last name is literally savage.
Here’s how Honda explained it to Ad Age:
“Fred was great but Fred reflected a key word — and that key word was nice,” he says. The brand wanted a “sound that had more gravitas to it and more room to grow, and if you look at John Cena’s work, that guy does such a breadth of work, from family films to the tough guy image … he’s a car guy,” [Ed Beadle, Honda’s assistant vice president for integrated marketing] adds.
This is, uh, all pretty dated and silly, but part of Honda’s campaign with the Passport, Pilot and Ridgeline is to convince buyers that they are buying big bad machines or something. They also changed the Ridgeline’s face to make it look meaner.
Honda PR says that with regard to the Ridgeline changes, look, this is just what the people want:
Thanks, Dan, I hear you. I hope you like it when you see it in person. The focus groups and research were clear on what buyers are looking for. Trucks are an emotional purchase.
— Matt Sloustcher (@SF_Matt) October 7, 2020
Honda Ridgeline sales were up nine per cent last year, to 33,334, which might be good except Ford sold 896,526 F-Series last year. And so Honda’s bet, I guess, is that it can peel off some fraction of those buyers and Silverado and Ram buyers. And it wouldn’t have to be big fractions to make a pretty big impact on Ridgeline sales. Which, fine!
But what I kind of wish Honda would do instead is focus on the things it’s good at — small and medium-sized sedans and SUVs — and not try to copy the Big Three on trucks. Because the Big Three are gonna win every time on trucks. I wish Honda would, you know, stay Fred Savage and less John Cena.