Best Viral Campaign

Honda taps ‘Ferris Bueller’ nostalgia to accelerate its CR-V promotion

Putting Matthew Broderick at the wheel, the carmaker paid homage to the iconic film—with an extended commercial, as well as an unbranded mini-peek that threw its campaign into overdrive. PR Daily’s 2012 Digital PR and Social Media Awards were presented by Synaptic Digital. Learn more about Synaptic Digital here (pdf).

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If you’re trying to launch a viral campaign, it helps to have a 25-year head start.

Repeat after me: “Bueller… Bueller… Bueller…?”

Early in 2012, American Honda tapped in to the established buzz about the 25th anniversary of the iconic movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to promote its CR-V model to young drivers. Who better, after all, to convey a sense of freedom and fun than Mr. Do Everything in One Fantastic Day, Ferris Bueller himself—or, more accurately, his portrayer, Matthew Broderick. 

The concept and its multilayered execution earned American Honda and RPA top honors in the Best Viral Campaign category in PR Daily’s Digital PR & Social Media Awards. 

The “Matthew’s Day Off” promotion turned back the proverbial odometer and had Broderick cruising in the newly redesigned CR-V, replete with music from and other homages to the original movie.

The campaign included a Super Bowl commercial, which was heralded by a YouTube teaser with a twist: The 10-second spot was unbranded. It generated a torrent of speculation that Honda was behind it. 

And Honda stayed mum. 

If less is more, then nothing was everything. 

Then, the Monday before the Super Bowl, when its 60-second ad would air, Honda posted extended versions of the commercial on Honda sites and on YouTube. 

Honda wasn’t done, though. It hid in the extended version what company officials described as “Easter eggs”—little prizes for “Bueller” aficionados to hunt for. There were references to the original movie, and devotees were encouraged—and many needed little, if any, prompting—to identify them. Many were obvious, but some were as subtle as the appearance of Ferris’s vest in a store window. 

Honda’s submission offers these results:

“Honda website traffic tripled during the Super Bowl activity. Honda was the most-viewed Super Bowl video online, the No. 1 trending video on YouTube, and the No. 1 shared commercial on Facebook and Twitter, and overall gained more than 2.5 billion PR impressions.”

The campaign, clearly, took on a life of its own—the essence of a viral campaign.

Kudos to the creative teams at American Honda and RPA for developing a campaign that was “so choice.”

If you’d like to watch the extended video—and hunt for the “Easter eggs”—click here: 

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