In 2015, Honda was presented with a unique opportunity to introduce the HR-V Crossover, a brand-new model, to the American automobile market. We wanted to debut the HR-V in a way that would break traditional auto advertising norms while still teaching people about the car and its unique selling points. With April Fools' Day coming up, we saw the perfect chance to get the Internet talking about the all-new HR-V by participating in one of the biggest days for branded content.
Our solution was the creation of the HR-V Selfie Edition. A special kind of HR-V that, like all Hondas, comes with a standard rearview camera. However, what made this special-edition HR-V noteworthy was the number of additional camera lenses sprinkled across the car's interior. Like any new product, the HR-V Selfie Edition needed the perfect spokesperson. In came "Ashley," a lovably narcissistic selfie queen, whom Honda asked to beta test the product. By documenting Ashley's product demonstration, we made the HR-V the real star of our viral video and showed off its interior, exterior and tech features.
Since April Fools' Day is a crowded time when every brand comes out to play, we knew we'd need to take a few extra steps to break through. On March 31, we released the video on Honda's social channels. In doing this, we not only got our prank out before many other brands, but we also made people think twice before dismissing it as a joke. But we didn't stop there; we backed up our prank by driving viewers to a mock website touting the HR-V Selfie Edition's camera placements and creating an Instagram account for Ashley.We went to great lengths to make sure Honda's April Fools' prank was believable, but our ultimate stunt was yet to come. The New York Auto Show happened to fall on April 1, so we opened Honda's presentation with a special announcement from one of the brand's top executives and played the beta-test video in front of close to 2,000 members of the press. There was even a "real" HR-V Selfie Edition with a custom "SLF" emblem on display for people to get up close and personal with.
Taking selfies is a controversial, polarizing topic that people love to hate. By attaching our project to a cultural trend, we didn't just introduce the world to the HR-V in a way that had never been done before; we also started a bigger conversation about today's selfie-obsessed world. After just four days, we received 931 million PR impressions, over 2.7 million views across Honda's social channels and more than $1.1 million in earned media from countless news sources, including CNN, NBC, ABC and Mashable. Engagement rates were through the roof. Our Facebook video garnered the highest engagement rate of 15.64%, compared to about 9% on Facebook. Furthermore, the HR-V Selfie Edition campaign helped Honda sell over 20,000 models between the HR-V's May 14 on-sale date and the end of July. On a day when many brands compete for attention, we not only stole the spotlight, but we introduced the newest member of the Honda family in a newsworthy, entertaining way.