Honda refreshes with JR music video collaboration



Honda, a Japanese public multinational conglomerate corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of cars, recently revealed that – according to current statistics – its brand is not as appealing to the public as it aspires to be. In a bold move, the company decided to take a homourous approach to these grim findings with a new campaign titled, Were Not Fresh.

Late last year, Honda launched the Honda Amaze in a creative, collaborative project with one of South Africa’s most popular hip-hop artists, JR. The collaboration includes a song and supporting music video that aims to showcase how Honda has “refreshed” its brand’s image.

“What made this campaign so remarkable is that Honda, via their agency DDB, took a massive leap of faith in poking fun at themselves and thereby winning the trust of savvy contemporary consumers,” says Arcade Content producer, Will Nicholson. “They didn’t pretend to be something they’re not – instead they embraced the insight that they’re ‘not fresh’ and used this as a great angle for humour and honesty, which studies show younger audiences, in particular, really appreciate.”

Business-savvy musician JR produced the campaign song and stars in the music video, which gives viewers a peek at how business deals are done in the music industry.

The tongue-in-cheek video begins in the boardroom, where an over-zealous agency creative is trying his best to convince the Honda team that this music video will improve their poor “Freshness Barometer” rating. The clients are not convinced – that is, until the high-profile rapper enters the room and takes charge of the presentation. JR impresses the Honda team, clinching a five-year contract and the keys to a new Honda Amaze.

The video continues with scenes from JR’s “daily life” as a musician and Honda ambassador. This includes shooting a music video while cruising in the new Honda Amaze, as well as a photo shoot to showcase his new ride.

“The concept was to create a music video that pokes fun at how often celebrities are used in contrived and insincere ways to try sell products,” Nicholson explains.

While the video employs popular stereotypes synonymous with hip-hop culture such as flashy jewellery, press attention and constantly being accompanied by an entourage, it also rejects unrealistic and excessive flourishes. For example, in one scene, JR refuses to wear an unnecessarily oversized jacket – making a profound statement on how he, like the Honda brand, is also trying to remain honest and real.

The music video was conceptualised by DDB creative directors Nicola Wielopolski and Conan Green produced by Arcade Content’s Julia Schnurr and directed by Lebogang Rasethaba.

“As consumers become more and more discerning, we as storytellers and marketers need to catch up with their demands, be more honest, clever and creative with how we tell stories,” says Rasethaba.

Sticking to the hip-hop aesthetic, the Were Not Fresh music video was shot by Deon Van Zyl on the Red Epic camera. Post-production duties were handled by the Postmodern Company.

Impressively, most of the action –including converting a Honda dealership into a boardroom for the opening scene – was captured in a just one day.

The video was released on 10 October 2018 and has received positive feedback on social media, earning the hashtag #WeStillFresh.

Art director Masonwabe Ntloko was impressed by the immense positive impact the music video has had on the campaign and the brand: “I love how it says everything the consumer needs to know, but in a fun way and in a language we all understand – music!”

“Young audiences in particular smell BS from a mile away, and don’t like to be ‘sold’. So this video is clever in that, from the very opening shot, the brand doesn’t claim to be cool – in fact, it brazenly admits it’s ‘not fresh’. Audiences appreciate this level of honesty, as if they’re invited in on a joke, instead of being presented a fake advertising façade,” concludes Nicholson.


Director: Lebogang Rasethaba

Producer: Julia Schnurr

DOP: Deon Van Zyl

Editor: William Kalmer

Sound: Sean Jefferis

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Gezzy S Sibisi
Gezzy S. Sibisi is a senior journalist at Screen Africa. She is experienced in print, broadcast and digital media. Her portfolio of work includes working as a lifestyle reporter as well as contributing business and education articles to The Times, Sowetan, and Daily Dispatch publications. As a freelancer, she has worked on content development for corporate newsletters, community newspapers, blogs and educational websites.


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