In 2002 Honda Motor Company was the number-three Japanese automobile manufacturer in the world, behind Toyota and Nissan. While Honda’s automobile sales in Japan and the United States were considered strong, sales in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe were thought to be weak, even though automobile production in the United Kingdom had been ongoing for a decade. Further, Honda vehicle sales had been declining in these regions since 1998. In response to these problems Honda hired ad agency Wieden+Kennedy’s London office to create an advertising campaign that would directly address the issues.
‘‘The Power of Dreams,’’ released in 2002, was an omnipresent campaign in the United Kingdom and beyond, using television, direct mail, radio, posters, press, interactive television, cinema, magazines, motor shows, press launches, dealerships, postcards, beermats (coasters), and even traffic cones. It built upon Honda’s company slogan, ‘‘Yume No Chikara,’’ which was first endorsed in the 1940s by the company’s founder, Soichiro Honda. Translated into English, it meant to ‘‘see’’ one’s dreams. Wieden+Kennedy used this phrase as the basis of its question to consumers: ‘‘Do you believe in the power of dreams?’’ The global campaign, which centered on this tagline, included print and television components starring ASIMO, a humanoid robot developed by Honda. While the ASIMO ads gained widespread recognition, the 2003 television commercial called ‘‘Cog’’ was clearly a pinnacle of the campaign. In a single take with no special effects, more than 85 individual parts of the new Accord interacted in a complicated chain reaction. The spot won 37 advertising awards. Honda considered ‘‘The Power of Dreams’’ an advertising success. Worldwide sales of Honda vehicles rose dramatically from 2002 through 2005, from 2.6 million units per year to 3.2 million units per year. In the United Kingdom sales improved by 28 percent. In Europe sales in 2002 increased from 170,000 to 196,000, which rose to 217,000 in 2003. The campaign also won IPA Advertising Effectiveness awards, British Television Advertising awards, and even a 2003 Gold Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival.