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Honda Taps the Grinch, Football and ‘Today’ to Drive Sales

To make use of the famous Grinch, Honda harnessed an ad campaign that looked a lot like the character’s heart – at first blush, two sizes too small; but upon further scrutiny, potentially larger than life.

The automaker’s annual “Happy Honda Days” promotion has been around for more than a decade. To draw attention to it this year, Honda teamed up with NBCUniversal’s Universal Pictures and won the rights to use the depiction of the miserly Grinch from current revival of “The Grinch” from the studio and Illumination in its commercials. But rather than spreading out ads featuring the green character for weeks and weeks, Honda has tied him to a campaign that lasts just a few days and runs across both TV and social media – a reflection of the need to use multiple media venues to reach the modern consumer.

“I don’t think there’s any one component that is ‘the one and only,'” says Susie Rossick, assistant vice president of Honda Marketing, in an interview. “I would never go all digital, but I would never go all television. It’s all about finding that sweet spot” that generates attention from broader audiences.

Honda kicked off its Grinch-fueled effort on Sunday, by running ads during Sunday football games and in more than 200 local markets showing the character canceling the “Happy Honda Days” event / On Monday, the character “took over” Honda’s Twitter feed and began letting loose with a stream of unhappy comments. Fans who followed were directed to check out the 10 a.m. hour of NBC’s “Today,” where they are slated to discover the grumpy fellow deciding to let the Honda event proceed.

Honda’s Rossick says she hopes the campaign helps the company make more of an impression at a time when many other automobile manufacturers are running their own ad efforts. “This is going to make us stand out among all the other campaigns that are running right now.”

Even so, the company isn’t leaving much to chance. A separate ad has been running for several weeks touting “Happy Honda Days” in a different way. Those commercials show classic toys like a version of the popular Steve Majors character from “The Six Million Dollar Man” or the Care Bears talking up various Honda models.

Honda struck its partnership with NBC during TV’s annual “upfront” market, when the major U.S. networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season.

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