Targeted emotion: Honda’s content marketing strategy

Honda’s marketing is highly regarded. Over the past 15 years it has produced award-winning TV ads such as ‘Impossible Dream’ and ‘Cog’.

In terms of content marketing, Honda is trying to be equally adventurous. At a recent seminar, Honda senior manager regional social and experiential marketing Ernie Kelsey spoke about the company’s strategy when it comes to content.

New content

Kelsey highlighted a number of new initiatives. These include the production of children’s audio books – Road Readers, available to all Honda owners – and films promoting distraction-free driving. It has also introduced a virtual reality experience for one of its cars at the Indy 500.

He makes an interesting point in the speech concerning strategy. It might seem simple but it is surprising the number of people who ignore it.

Kelsey says: “The big part is not just what you’re creating. It’s your content strategy and targeting. It’s directly related to engagement and sentiment; it is also about the placement. Just like a broadcast commercial, it’s not always going to work on social.

“We look where content will resonate best and with each platform’s native audience. When we planned our content calendar for the year we’ve taken in the storyline and how content types play with each audience.”

Targeting an emotional connection

Central to his argument about social and content strategy is the way in which it differs from above the line media. Put simply, you cannot run content marketing created for Snapchat on network TV.

Instead, the aim is to make a connection on an emotional level. “It causes people to pay attention just like a good news hook,” says Kelsey. More interestingly, he claims it is not about sales.

“When you’re talking about emotion, people get confused between emotion and emotional. People just need to understand the sentiment; we don’t aim to leave them crying or laughing hysterically. It’s just that we want to connect on an individual level. But as you manage that up, it gets to be difficult.”

The view contrasts with that of UK advertising legend Sir John Hegarty, who panned content marketing saying it lacked the cut-through of a big TV ad campaign. Honda’s line is that the specific requirement of each social channel creates audience-specific creative.

Targeted emotion: Honda’s content marketing strategy is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.