Acura accelerates into AR, cinematic ads with multichannel push for TLX

Dive Brief:

  • Acura’s newly available 2021 TLX sport sedan stars in a new 60-second ad shot in the style of a 1920s silent film and set to “It’s Oh So Quiet,” sung by actress and singer Betty Hutton, per an announcement. The multichannel “Break the Silence” campaign includes 15- and 30-second versions of the spot, with ads set to air during NFL and NBA games, network cable and video-on-demand (VOD) services. Acura also is running Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin versions of the TV spots.
  • Dynamic audio insertions target general market and Hispanic audiences who listen to streaming platforms such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, SoundCloud and Amazon. Acura is also running takeovers and editorial sponsorships for Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino Voices sections of the Huffington Post, and on Verizon Media’s TechCrunch and Yahoo sites.
  • An augmented reality (AR) driving game called “Inside Track” will be available for smartphone users who want to challenge friends to a race through several 3D virtual courses. Acura also partnered with Verizon on an AR activation, with immersive media appearing across multiple platforms. The car brand is working with agency of record MullenLowe LA on the campaign.

Dive Insight:

At a time when overall car sales are down due to the pandemic, Acura is blanketing media channels with the TLX “Break the Silence” campaign, looking to reach a wide audience of consumers across age groups. The multichannel push includes traditional TV, streaming TV and audio, social media and mobile-first AR activations, reflecting today’s fragmented media landscape.

The centerpiece of the new campaign, which is an extension of its broader “Less Talk. More Drive” effort that was first introduced last year, is a 60-second short film inspired by silent movies from the 1920s. The mostly black-and-white film depicts an actor racing in a TLX through silent-movie sets, contrasting with the modern features of the TLX, which is depicted in full color. By running the spots during NFL and NBA games, along with network cable and VOD services, Acura is aiming for broad reach among a wide demographic of potential car buyers.

The company also seeks to reach younger adults with its digital campaign that includes audio streaming, websites and social media. Eighty-six percent of people ages 12-34 in the U.S. said they had listened to online audio in the past month, more than the 76% of people ages 35 to 54 and 42% of people ages 55 or older, per a study by Edison Research and Triton. Because iHeartRadio, Pandora, SoundCloud and Amazon tend to appeal to different age groups, Acura can reach a wide audience of listeners on smartphones and smart speakers with its campaign.

The AR racing game also could engage younger consumers with an experience that prolongs exposure to the Acura brand, which emphasizes the high performance of its automotive engineering. Acura used a similar gamified strategy with the February release of its “Beat That” racing game that showcased the same cars as in its commercials. Acura’s latest game suggests the strategy of engaging mobile users with branded AR content is promising, especially among consumers who may be limiting their visits to dealer lots during the pandemic.

Acura isn’t alone in adopting the strategy to introduce new vehicle models, as seen with Lexus’ release of a mobile app that let people see an immersive preview of its 2021 IS sedan and virtually drive the car as if it were a remote-control toy. Toyota last year rolled out a Spanish-language AR mobile ad that gave smartphone users an interactive view of its 2020 Corolla, while Mercedes-Benz released an AR filter on Instagram to let users of the photo-sharing app decorate their photos with computer-generated imagery.

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