How would you make a 30-second TV ad for the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid?

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by insightman, Oct 11, 2018.

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  1. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Many people complained that the one 30-second TV ad for the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid wasn't very good. Could you do better?

    Honda is no longer advertising the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid. Don't ask me why. However, imagine Honda came to you, a Clarity PHEV enthusiast, to make a new ad. How would you convince someone in just 30 seconds to take a look at this car? What message would you try to convey? What visuals would you use? How much text would you expect people to read?

    Here's what Honda did:

    Honda produced just one of their traditional feel-good ads for the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (I'm not counting the quickie Superstore-cast ad). That ad reveals the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is an electric car, but emphasizes it can run on gasoline if you need it. It says the car's total range is 340 miles, but doesn't mention the EV range. I believe Honda was afraid to mention the 47-mile EV range, fearing that would be the only range number that would stick in viewers' minds.

    The more I watched this ad, the more I admired its balanced approach. Of course, a series of ads, each emphasizing a different aspect of the car, would be better, but your task is to come up with a better 30-second ad, knowing it will be the only ad Honda will ever run.

    I've summarized that solitary Clarity Plug-In Hybrid TV commercial, which is called "Beyond the Battery":

    "With the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, the end of your battery charge isn’t the end of the world. It runs on electric, has gas if you need it. For a range rating of 340 miles."

    A happy family of 5 is riding in a Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid as Dad drives it through a beautiful vacation-land of green hills, blue waters, and pine forests. Three kids occupy the back seat, illustrating it’s quite roomy back there. These kids are having such a good time they’re watching the scenery and interacting with each other. There's nary a cell phone or tablet in evidence.

    A mountain-sized cylindrical battery suddenly looms in the background and soon the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid is driving down the center axis of that enormous battery. The road and gorgeous scenery also captured in that giant cylinder are disappearing behind the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid as it drives from one end of the battery to the other.

    When the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid reaches the end of the battery, it doesn’t disappear along with the scenery. Instead, it emerges from the end of the battery to continue on its merry way, driving again through the gorgeous scenery outside the battery.

    Sequential text overlay that appears below the Honda “H” logo at end of the TV ad:
    340-Mile Range Rating (0.9 seconds)
    Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (0.9 seconds)
    Honda (0.9 seconds)
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
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  3. TheTruth

    TheTruth New Member

    I see the existing ad very differently. It doesn't seem balanced to me at all. Once it aired, it became very difficult for me to convince my wife it was still ok to buy a Clarity.

    The imagery and voice over focus the viewer on running out of battery. They do this in an attempt to reassure the viewer. However, it can, and did, have the opposite effect. From that moment on, my wife hated the car because she was afraid of running out of battery. The emotion created an aversion so strong that she didn't listen to what happens after the battery is depleted.

    Instead, I would focus on the things that made me want to buy the car:

    + It's beautiful inside and out (show the touring model with dark interior and beige suede-ish material)
    + Sexy headlights
    + The car seamlessly switches back and forth between gas and electricity
    + You can even plug it in if you want to
    + Expansive trunk space (appeals to current hybrid owners)
    + No better socially responsible car for the price
    + Qualifies for a huge government incentive of up to $7,500
    + Average driver should save about $75 per month in gas vs an Accord (fine print at the bottom to show assumptions)
    + Get one and everyone will envy you (I get stopped all the time)
    + Best of all, it's a Honda (you get essentially all the benefits and size of an Accord with the added bonuses of a hybrid AND an electric car)
    + Honda Lane Keeping (show it driving itself around a turn!)
    + Amazing safety ratings
    + Car and Driver, ______, and ______ rate the Clarity as beating Tesla Model 3 in X, Y and Z
    + Separate commercial (steal from the Chevy model and have actors guffaw over how great it looks, the cool tech, the gas mileage, the price and how convenient charging is)
    + At the end, show how the total cost can reduce to around $29k with Federal and State incentives (show in the fine print how those incentives are limited), them re-highlight potential fuel savings - this car is CHEAP to own, people need to know that

    Also, I'd create some sort of tagline like Honda Clarity, Affordable Luxury and Good for the Environment.

    I would focus on trying to bring over drivers of traditional cars, not hybrid owners.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Inside EVs mobile app
  4. TheTruth

    TheTruth New Member

    I forgot in my prior post that you MUST focus on the quiet, smooth ride.

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Inside EVs mobile app
  5. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    You also forgot that your ad is limited to 30 seconds, like Honda's was. Your admirable list of Clarity attributes would take 5 minutes to show and explain.

    How was "340 mile range rating" missed when you and your wife watched Honda's ad? It's both spoken and displayed in text.
  6. TheTruth

    TheTruth New Member

    You missed the part where I said she stopped listening. The visual image of the battery wasting away on the screen was powerful. Expecting people to override that image because the heard a number is short-sighted in my view.

    As for the length of the ad, you may be right as I have no experience. That's true if we're talking about mentioning everything I listed. However, almost none of the things that were compelling to me were shown in the ad. Further, extremely little (if any) of what I enjoy as an owner was shown in the ad.

    Within 3 weeks of buying, I convinced my friend to buy. Rest assured that none of that convincing was based on positioning the car as still being good when the battery runs out (which seems to be the principal focus of the ad).

    For my $.02, the ad was designed almost exclusively to address a concern. That is to say, it talked about why owning the car is not a negative. In doing so, it ignored all the positive attributes of being a Clarity owner.

    Stated differently, an effective ad should show why someone should want a Clarity, as opposed to explaining why they shouldn't be afraid to try it.

    Who do you know who is willing to spend $35k on something just because it doesn't suck?

    Sent from my SM-G950U using Inside EVs mobile app
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  8. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Darn, I didn't start this thread to defend Honda's commercial. However, they had 30 seconds to introduce a car with one major piece of technology that makes it more desirable than most other cars.

    All the issues @TheTruth raised are valid, but Honda couldn't address even a small subset of them in 30 seconds. Would it make sense to spend the 30 seconds showing the car's sexy headlights while explaining the government will give you $7,500 off your taxes if you're rich enough to owe $7,500 in taxes? How could the first and only ad not reveal that the car is a plug-in hybrid?

    What would you put into a 30-second ad that differentiates the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid from all other cars and gets someone to check the car out?
  9. Emanuel Green

    Emanuel Green Member

    Guy pulls into the garage, gets out, checks his phone. Sees a GasBuddy-esque alert: "Gas prices are going up!" Smiles, shakes his head, and plugs the car in.

    Montage of leaving, pulling into the garage, driving in different kinds of weather. Guy passes an old-fashioned gas station where a guy on a ladder is changing the number on the sign to a higher price. The driver smiles and rolls his eyes. Voiceover: "The Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid has enough all electric range to do most of your daily driving entirely without gas!" *fine print disclaimer stating that the average American drives <30 miles per day according to studies by whatever organization.

    New scene, the family is preparing for a road trip. Shows them loading luggage into the large trunk, all five getting in; camera lingers for a moment on how roomy the car is inside. They pull out, quick montage of road-trip driving through different scenery, family enjoying the smooth ride. Voiceover: "... And when you need to get away, those long road trips will be easy on your wallet!" (Text on screen: EPA combined 42 MPG)

    The car pulls into a gas station, fills up. Close-up shot of the final price, showing how cheap the 7-gallon tank is to fill up. The car pulls away and drives off into the sunset.

    Text appears:
    Honda Clarity
    340 Mile Range
    Electric or Gas
    No Compromises
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  10. KentuckyKen

    KentuckyKen Well-Known Member

    OK, @insightman, the gauntlet has been thrown down and I accept the challenge. Here goes, but don’t expect much as I’m probably going to violate every advertising rule known to Madison Ave.

    The commercial begins with a close-up of a face squashed flat against a pane of glass and zooms out to reveal a phone booth crammed with people doing the old how many students can you cram in a phone booth thing. The voice over is saying something like “Did you think affordable electric cars have to be uncomfortable shoe boxe size? Well not any more, Honda’s new Plug In Hybrib Clarity is a full size car with ample room for 5 and a trunk big enough for trips to the beach or golf course in quiet roomy comfort.” Visual segues to a beautiful doors open interior shot with empty room, people getting in, and luggage/golf clubs loaded in the trunk.

    “And did you think electric cars were limited by their range and the stress of running out of battery charge?” Visual is a panic stricken woman w kids crying in back seat or screaming for food, while she looks for a charging station with a dashboard blinking and announcing 1 mile left!, 1 mile left!. Then she’s on the side of the road holding a charging handle with a forlorn look. The voice over for this is:
    “Well Honda made the Clarity so you will never have to worry about running out of battery charge. It drives all electric and then if needed automatically switches over to its thrifty gas engine. So you never get stranded and never have to worry about finding a charging station.
    Visual segues to a Tesla like car at a public charger with owner bored and tapping his fingers and looking at his watch or maybe fuming because he’s late for a meeting or a date. “You just fill it up like a regular car and wave at those expensive other electric cars stuck to a charger as you go by on the way to the beach.” Happy family waves to unhappy Tesla like owner who watches them go by with a sigh.

    Segues to Clarity driving past a solar farm and windmills turning in the distance with graphic of 340 mile range electric and gas combined (EPA 110 MPGe)
    “Honda gives you the best of both worlds, a car that’s good for your wallet and good for the environment too. And best of all it’s a Honda with all the safety features to protect the next generation.”
    Visual segues to a sleeping infant being tucked in to a car seat.
    Mom and Dad drive with loving glance to rear car seat with infant and smile at each other.
    “See you local Honda dealer for the perfect car of the future available today.”

    Tried my best to get it down to 30 seconds. It may have to be edited.
    Should I ask Honda for a job?
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  11. LAF

    LAF Active Member

    I would say, "want to help save the earth by driving a car 90% of the time without burning any gas? Buy a Clarity. It is the only full size care that gets 50 miles on a charge. It is remarkable comfortable on long drives where theres is no fear of running out of energy because it has a backup gas engine you can quickly fill to keep you going. And best of all $7500-$10,000 rebates make the care less expensive than all gas and standard hybrid car of the same size!
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  13. Emanuel Green

    Emanuel Green Member

    While visuals like those would undoubtedly be effective at giving people range anxiety, I think we should avoid painting full EVs in a bad light. After all, if the ultimate goal is to move away from fossil fuels, then BEVs are a better end-point than PHEVs. The Clarity is a fantastic transitional vehicle, but we want to cannibalize sales of gas-guzzlers, not electron-sippers!
  14. Candice

    Candice Active Member

    I have actually been thinking about this for commercial would be called "What if"

    The announcer says what if you could drive a car that you loved (video of various people smiling at the dashboard, leather seats, 4 adults inside, outside view). What if you could drive without putting gas in the car (video of people saying how long they have gone without putting gas in the car: two weeks, two months etc). What if you could charge at home (video of someone plugging in a garage) or even charge for free (video of people charging at free spots around town). What if you could get federal rebates and some state rebates (video of people saying state rebates but not the amount like "I got a rebate in CA") Then the end would be What if you drove a Honda Clarity.

    Not sure how long it would be but I may make the commercial and post it. As soon as my son gets home from college with the iphone.
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  15. Candice

    Candice Active Member

    For what it is worth, I LOVE the newest Insight commercial with the meh cars and blah cars driving around. Great concept!
  16. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Jalopnik has an article about how the meh, blah, and ugh cars in that expensive-looking ad are sort of cool.
  17. Candice

    Candice Active Member

    I like the comment on the much debated wheel skirt. Since it is windowed, it is now interesting and novel:

    "From the rear quarter, I don’t even mind the BLAHs, especially with the way that the lower part of the ‘B’ forms an interesting windowed skirt for the rear wheel, a novel design decision."
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