Acura’s year-end push, “Season of Reason” Features Bette Midler And Gordon Ramsey

MediaPost News
Honda And Acura Mock Holiday Convention
by Karl Greenberg
November 14, 2011

Honda and sibling Acura are poking fun at holiday convention and extravagance, respectively, in their year-end campaigns, which offer up incentives and deals to clear showrooms for next year’s models.

Acura’s year-end push, “Season of Reason,” hitting airwaves for the third year running, features Bette Midler and chef Gordon Ramsay as the embodiment affluent profligacy. The campaign by the rp& division of long-time Honda agency RPA is meant to appeal to affluent consumers who are looking to make a “smart choice” and are in no mood to flout their wealth, or overspend on luxury.

Said Susie Rossick, brand manager of Acura National Advertising, “Our goal is to stand out in the pack of end-of-the-year automotive advertising by being clever and wry, and these spots portraying holiday zealots overspending to hire personal celebrities is a funny twist on our successful past holiday campaigns.”

Each of the two spots opens with an affluent reveler announcing that he or she has hired celebrity talent to add spice to holiday festivities. In one, a caroler has hired Bette MIdler to make his singing troupe the best on the block only to be upstaged by the histrionic Midler, thus ruining the whole event. In the ad featuring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, an aristocratic woman boasts that she has hired Ramsay to prepare the holiday dinner, but the formality of the event is ruined because Ramsay goes ballistic in the kitchen, screaming at his underlings and firing them remorselessly. VO: “At a time when it’s easy to go overboard, Acura invites you to be smarter and over-save during the Season of Reason sales event.”

Ads will run on CBS broadcasts of NFL games, while online banners will roll through some 18 auto shopping sites like, and The campaign will also include print, POP and radio ads.

Honda, meanwhile, is bringing back actor Patrick Warburton (“Family Guy” and “Rules of Engagement” among other shows) as the voice for the ads, while up-market Acura is using Bette Midler and Gordon Ramsay. Walburton was the even-tempered voice of the “Good Reasons” campaign about Honda vehicle quality, which ran earlier in 2011.

The new campaign, “Happy Honda Days,” via Santa Monica-based RPA comprises nine TV spots touting holiday savings and incentives.

The campaign has Warburton mocking the whole convention of year-end ads. He strolls into a spare set in a red cardigan, with vehicles like Honda Pilot and Accord ranged behind him, and riffs mock-seriously. In one spot he riffs on his own presence in the ads and even on how the ads are structured. In another he takes on the cliché of year-end ads featuring vehicles with big red bows on top, given as gifts. That ad starts with him saying, “You a millionaire? No? Then you probably don’t give cars to people.” He proceeds to pull the big red bow off the top of an Accord. “But you can get one for yourself.”

Honda’s ad buy is generous: ABC, CBS, NBC and CW, including during “Desperate Housewives,” “Pan Am,” “2 Broke Girls,” “60 Minutes,” “Prime Suspect,” “The Office,” “Ringer” and “Gossip Girl.” Honda is also running ads on automobile websites like Car and Driver, Automobile, Consumer Guide Automotive, Edmunds, Motor Trend, Road & Track, AOL Autos,,, Kelley Blue Book, Facebook, Google, Bing, MSN Autos, Source Interlink Media, Jumpstart, Vehix and Yahoo! Autos.

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