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Oct 8, 2008

Honda Taps Sony to Ramp Up Its Ad Strategy

Ed: To fight advertising clutter, Honda spends $500,000 with Sony's Media Network.

Honda Taps Sony to Ramp Up Its Ad Strategy

In an unprecedented move for Web advertising, Honda is buying all the online and mobile advertising space sold by Sony Pictures Television for a week starting Wednesday to promote the launch of its Honda Fit.
[Honda advertising]Honda

The Honda deal promotes Fit across all Sony's mobile and online entertainment and third-party sites in the U.S.

While it's not uncommon for advertisers to buy all the available ad space tied to a particular TV show or single Web site to drown out the competition, Honda's half-million dollar deal with Sony takes that strategy a step further by extending across all Sony's mobile and online entertainment and third-party sites in the U.S.

Marketers have long been concerned about breaking through the crush of advertising on television. Now, with marketers following consumers online in droves, advertising clutter is becoming a major issue on the Web as well. The average Web surfer is exposed to thousands of online ads a month -- and remembers very few of them.

"The fact is, that like any part of the media landscape, it is harder and harder to break through," says Edmund Purcell, vice president and interactive management supervisor at RPA, American Honda's advertising agency. "We are not just throwing up a banner that could be passed over."

The Honda Fit campaign, aimed at metropolitan people who like small, fuel-efficient cars, includes ads on Sony Pictures' site Crackle, where viewers can share user-generated video. Ads will also appear on sites and music videos linked to Sony's music label Sony BMG, and on mobile networks Sony partners with, including wireless carriers Sprint and AT&T.

Ads will be tied to Sony-created digital programming across third-party sites as well, including social networking sites MySpace and Facebook; video sites YouTube and Hulu; and the virtual world Gaia Online.

Sony's digital programming includes minisodes, which are TV shows cut down to five-minute episodes for the Web and mobile; CSpots, which are original short-form videos that appear online and mobile; and Sony Pix, which are full-length films from the studio's library available via online and mobile.

Consumers often have a hard time remembering standard digital display ads, but a marketer can make more of an impact if they sponsor all the advertising space on a particular site, says Alan Gould, co-CEO at IAG Research, a Nielsen firm that tracks the performance of advertising. With online videos, if one marketer is the sole sponsor of the content, the impact of the ad can be stronger than TV, he adds. "It's more challenging to get your online display ads noticed in the first place, but once you do capture the site visitor's attention, the branding can be very powerful if you own the environment," says Mr. Gould.

Sony says it plans to pursue the Honda model with other advertisers in the future. "It's a perfect fit for what branded messaging on the Internet could be, or should be," says Amy Carney, president of ad sales at Sony Pictures Television, which sells all advertising connected to Sony's television, movie and music content across its own and third-party partner sites.

It's the not the first time Honda has tapped Sony: previous campaigns have included a contest on Crackle. Honda's latest deal with Sony is part of a broader Honda Fit promotion that includes TV ads, which started appearing at the end of September, an animated game, a Web site and a promotion with MTV Web sites set for early 2009.

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