Trophy City: 5 Questions With Susie Rossick, Honda U.S.

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Honda Tower of Success ad 2017

Honda Accord has been awarded lots of trophies over the decades, and it deserves another, figurative one: best-selling car in America over the last 41 years. So it’s only appropriate that the brand’s new U.S. ad campaign for its iconic mid-size sedan, “Trophy City,” dwells on trophy-worthy accomplishments by humans and pushes them to excel.

The “Trophy City” ad campaign debuted on Oct. 29th during televised NFL and NHL games, and it was featured in an episode of Will & Grace and on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Upcoming high-exposure moments will include ads during the Golden Globes and Latin Grammy Awards, as well as key sports platforms.

“This campaign was created to recognize all that the Honda Accord has achieved as well as inspire everyone to keep reaching higher, to never rest on your laurels,” said Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of marketing for Honda in the U.S.

With the all-new, 10th generation Accord, Honda is certainly aiming higher. Among other innovations, it boasts two new turbocharged engines, a segment-first 10-speed automatic transmission and six-speed manual transmission for each engine and a third-generation hybrid powertrain.

In the TV spot, a city skyline of trophy figurines pontificate about pushing higher to achieve things, until finally they ascend to the level of a new Accord, suspended on a pedestal over the city. “The most impressive Honda ever,” the ad concludes. “Our quest for better never ends.”

Honda Tower of Success

Rossick said that the “Trophy City” campaign also includes a “really cute social extension that we’ll roll out a little later that allows consumers to [award] trophies to their friends, such as the best baker of the day. We like the ability … to take creative across everything we do, especially social, and this particular campaign is great for that.”

Susie Rossick - Honda 2017Rossick (right) told us more about marketing one of the best-known vehicles in U.S. history:

Susie, it’s an interesting time for sedans, with crossovers and SUVs seeing  momentum in the U.S. Do you take that into account in how you market Accord, or do you not have to because the car is so popular?

Realistically, we recognize that SUVs are becoming more and more of the car market. People are moving toward SUVs. We’re not discounting that, for sure. But there’s still a lot of demand for sedans. Sedans are still the major driver when it comes to brand opinion for your overall brand, according to GfK.

That’s another reason why Accord is so important to Honda. It’s the 10th generation and it’s the most impressive car that Honda has ever built. It’s beautiful and has everything on it and is in a class by itself. That’s what we wanted the campaign to reflect.

Why are sedans still the major driver of brand opinion for U.S. car-buyers?

A lot of it is based on the units still in operation out there. Eventually, SUVs will be the major driver of brand opinion, but that’s down the road.

What’s your strategy for keeping Accord at the top?

We’re looking from a media plan at doing the most comprehensive media plan we can, targeted at certain audiences, and we’re going everywhere we can, including regional and digital. I don’t know that we’re adjusting it from a sedan vs. SUV standpoint. You know what vehicles you’re in the market for based on your life road.

Our goal is that if you’re in the market for a sedan and this is a choice you want to make, that you choose Accord because it offers you everything you need. For the first time in a sedan, for instance, we have the Honda Sensing suite of safety features across all trims.

What are you trying to accomplish with this particular campaign?

This is the most impressive sedan Honda has ever made. We wanted creative to reflect that. This concept from RPA really speaks to the idea, the notion of never resting on your laurels. Accord has been on Car & Driver’s ’10 Best’ list more times than any other car in history, even in the last year of the previous version. That made us work even harder to produce an even better Accord.

In “Trophy City,” everyone is in first place but Accord is saying ‘We didn’t rest on our laurels, we wanted to be even better.’ They did an outstanding job of positioning it this way. All the different awards we have and finally there is the Accord—on top of Trophy City, bigger than life.

Tell us about your TV product placement strategy—and what’s your take on the NFL?

We wanted to go with high-profile programming to introduce the Accord. The real guts of the launch will take place in January. We’re at an awkward point right now where we’re getting to end-of-year sales events. But we wanted to introduce the new Accord to consumers to let them know it’s out there. So we picked some high-profile programming. We did a real cute piece with Jack in Will & Grace and also aired the “Trophy City” spot (during the show).

Clearly, we’re not going to deny that NFL ratings are down. We’ll make compensation for that, but it’s still reaching millions and millions of people. Live television is still the place you have to go to get those big numbers for awareness. We’ll re-evaluate it as the season continues. It’s still big.


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