Green-Themed Campaign Gets Red Light From Honda

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By Steve Miller
Honda’s experiment with Environmentology appears to be over.

Sage Marie, a Honda rep, said the green-themed
campaign, which was introduced last fall via agency RPA, Los Angeles,
will be phased out in coming months, but "the environmental message
will continue to be part of Honda."

While Marie declined to give a reason for the
decision, a source said the effort, which featured the made-up term
environmentology and outlined Honda’s "environmentally responsible"
technology, "never went as deep as had been planned."

Added the source: "It was directionally challenged and
I think Honda was struggling as a group with it. As soon as it started
rolling out, mindsets changed."

The spots were launched in the fall with a large print buy in major newspapers and magazines, including full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living and Newsweek.

Honda also ran 15-second billboards on the Weather
Channel’s podcast platform page, which included steering listeners to
the "Environmentology" Web site.

Spending for the campaign was not broken out. Honda
anted up $729 million for measured media last year, per Nielsen
Monitor-Plus.

The change comes as most automakers are striving to
out-green each other in their pursuit of making environmental
sensitivity part of their public image. In recent months, Ford, General
Motors, Toyota and others have stepped up their green-themed messages.

Honda’s campaign wasn’t very compelling, said Bill
Moore, publisher of evworld.com, a site devoted to eco-friendly
practices in the auto industry. "I’m surprised they would do away with
it so soon, but I doubt they will ever abandon presenting their image
as a green company," he said.

Honda has environmental awareness in its lineage, and
is known widely as the automaker that designed, manufactured and sold
the world’s first hybrid, the Insight, in 1999.

Honda has traditionally used its greenness as a theme
for ads. Over the years, the automaker has run a series of ads playing
up the fuel efficiency of its cars and others on the clean burning of
its engines.

But the obsession with green marketing may be reaching
a saturation point, as hybrid cars are stacking up on some dealer lots
and just about everyone casts themselves as a steward of the land, said
Rex Briggs, CEO of Marketing Evolution, a marketing research
consultancy based in El Dorado Hills, Calif.

"There is more of a challenge now because consumers
now what to know what’s in it for them in addition to helping the
world," Briggs said. "Environmentology doesn’t translate in that way."

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