It is refreshing to see integration that has a chance. The Honda Element and Friends campaign is cute, creative, engaging, and memorable. What other agencies and clients fail to realize is that it's not about the technology, it's about understanding the technology enough to do good creative.
Element and Friends is a broadband experience, but Honda does not force the user to have a broadband connection for the first page -- cutting down on load time. And when you do engage the broadband portion, while the broadband is loading, simple instructions inform the user how to interact with the environment.
Honda also blends the usual viral "Send this website to a friend" element, with the ability to download the commercials. Unfortunately, and this is where the actual site production quality started to impact the experience; the download commercial link did not work, a noticeable flaw, nor did the site give an easy way to contact Honda about said link.
They also did miss a logical viral opportunity with the campaign in that the commercials, although expertly edited, are so simplistic in their production quality, that it would not have been an overly difficult task to have given users production elements of the five creatures, the Element, and a bunch of word bubbles for them to assemble their own commercials to distribute.
If you decide not to view the commercials at that time, no matter, their content is interwoven inside the larger broadband experience. But after you have completed meeting all of the creatures and interacting with them, you get.... nothing. At least give a free test drive with $100 cash back, a Honda Element mousepad, something. I mean, this is a user that you should be driving into your showroom. In fact you should be driving over to pick them up and bring them to your showroom. Alas, the site fails in this logical extension.
In the end, the microsite is a good example of content reuse and integration, and succeeds at being engaging, entertaining, and does leave the user with a positive brand experience, but has some technical problems and fails to tie the whole experience together with a payoff that would transcend to viral word-of-mouth.
-- Sean Cummings, VP product development, Dipsie
Driving games have always been one of the most popular interactive gaming genres. Maybe it’s the easy-to-understand rules or the fact that you can wrap a vehicle around a tree without serious repercussions. Whatever the case, Honda and RPA have delivered an infectious game that got me on the hook and pulled me in.
Several factors separate this driving game from numerous others I’ve seen. The graphics are nicely done. They’re not overly slick, but rather have a quirkiness to them that compliments animal characters around the track.
Additionally, the operating instructions are simple and clear. I’m more interested in the adventure than mastering a game controller during a 10 minute office break. And getting around the track is key to this piece, as each stop along the way builds the case for why the Element is a remarkable vehicle.
An hour after playing the game, I can still recall how the vehicle’s features relate to the characteristics of each of the six animals you incur around the track. That’s a strong testament to interactive advertising’s ability to stamp brand attributes on the mind.
I was a little confused at the ending. Wasn’t sure when I was finished, or what if anything was supposed to happen. And I thought there should have been something to keep me, as a consumer interested enough to spend 10 minutes with the brand, on the line. A link to the site just didn’t seem quite enough.
However, this site delivers a fun, simple game that I found easy to become absorbed in. And by connecting that ease of entrance into a memorable branding experience, this site is a refreshing pit stop on the way to a new vehicle purchase.
-- Doug Schumacher, president, Basement, Inc.