May 4 2007
Green-Themed Campaign Gets Red Light From Honda April 30, 2007

This article was in Brandweek.

Green-Themed Campaign Gets Red Light From Honda April 30, 2007

By Steve Miller

DETROIT — 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, 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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