DETROIT –’s Acura premium brand is readying what it says is the biggest advertising campaign in its 27-year history, as it prepares for the launch of the all-new ’14 MDX cross/utility vehicle.
Gary Robinson, manager-Acura national advertising and brand, bases that claim on the size of the spend – twice the amount allocated last year to launch the smaller RDX CUV – and the sheer volume of ads that will run.
The ’14 MDX campaign, which encompasses theater and TV commercials, print ads, digital spots, billboards, social-media sites and a partnership with W hotels, marks the debut of Acura’s new advertising agency, Boston-based Mullen.
showed the new MDX ads, which can be seen at acuracampaigns.com, to media here last week.
Robinson readily admits Acura has failed to create a prestige-brand image on par with such competitors as, Audi and Lexus. It hopes to close that gap by appealing in the new MDX ads to the emotions of a demographic it calls “doers.”
“There’s sort of a selfishness that is promoted in luxury advertising,” Robinson says. “A lot of it is, ‘Treat yourself great; don’t worry about anyone else.’ Our hope is we can take a human focus and put that into our advertising so we can push the world forward.”
“Doers” are wealthy, but non-ostentatious, people who want to make a difference in the world via their work, he says.
Among them, the auto maker says, is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, an Acura TSX owner, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and statistics whiz and author Nate Silver.
Robinson says that during consumer clinics it was “frustrating” at first that Acura buyers tended to be the smartest people in the room, but also “a little nerdy,” compared to the more sophisticated advertising executives and architects in attendance who he says “inevitably drove BMWs.”
Acura executives wondered, “Are we supposed to be happy about this? Is this a good thing?” Robinson says.
But the Japanese brand decided to embrace that audience and now wants to reach these buyers on their turf.
To do so, Acura advertised at the Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco two weeks ago, and early this month inked a sponsorship deal with Jerry Seinfeld’s online show, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”
Seinfeld’s show allows Acura to talk to intelligent people but not have to compete for their attention with other luxury brands, which Robinson says have the means to outspend Acura by a wide margin.
He counts the Seinfeld sponsorship, and other non-typical marketing activities, such as allowing W hotel guests to test-drive Acuras during their stay and curating collections on luxury shopping site Gilt.com, as ways to cut through the automotive-ad clutter.
Still, Acura plans to utilize plenty of traditional advertising methods, with five TV commercials on deck, “which for us is (a) huge (number),” Robinson says.
While the MDX campaign officially kicks off July 7, some commercials already have aired in movie theaters and during the National Hockey League’s championship games, of which Honda is a sponsor.
Unlike in the past, when Acura campaigns tended to be disconnected from each other, marketing programs for future models will carry a similar look and feel to the MDX’s, Robinson says.
Acura is targeting ’14 MDX sales of about 60,000 units, he says. American Honda marketing chief Mike Accavitti recently told WardsAuto he believes volume could go beyond that mark.
WardsAuto data shows the MDX’s best year was 2004, with 59,505 sold.
While the MDX initially wasn’t expected to hit dealerships until early July, the CUV officially went on sale June 19 in the U.S.