Selling a car to Santa is no easy feat. Neither is winning the confidence of Secret Weapon Marketing’s Rick Sittig, a 30-year ad vet and accomplished director in his own right. Emmy Award winning studio ShadowMachine has accomplished both, with its second consecutive SoCal Honda Dealers holiday campaign via Secret Weapon, airing now. The four-spot package – also screening in theaters - follows up on last year’s success, continuing the "Happy Honda Days" campaign message with a twist. While the animation style contributes to the initial warm and cheery portrayal of potential North Pole customers, their rougher edges are revealed. The spots were directed by ShadowMachine’s Jed Hathaway, who helmed the first round of Honda commercials and whose commercial credits include the studio’s ADDY Award-winning Farmer’s Insurance campaign. In addition to Honda and Farmer’s, ShadowMachine’s full-service commercial division has produced projects for Disney, Fuel TV, Hallmark and GE.
“We designed the characters and environments to have an innocent, classic aesthetic reminiscent of ‘Davey and Goliath’ or the nostalgic Rankin Bass specials,” said Hathaway. “It's all a setup for our helpful Honda dealers who commit to helping customers, unwittingly putting themselves in harm’s way.” In one spot, the Honda dealer is offered a chance to go down the Chimney on Christmas Eve in return for helping Santa sort through all of the holiday car sales events. The ride may be more risk than reward. A second ad has Santa extending an offer to our Helpful Honda dealer, letting him help deliver gifts...albeit to Max who tops the naughty list. In the remaining spots, we meet a crafty snow Angel and a hungry, self-serving Penguin. Last year’s campaign featured an Angry Elf ruthlessly protecting his turf and Santa’s Sleigh soaring with a helpful hand.
This year’s expansive campaign includes online banners, outdoor billboards, and in-dealership displays. Hathaway credits ShadowMachine’s “high pedigree of artists, from designers and fabricators to assistants and animators” with making possible not only the Honda work but the many diverse projects being produced in-house at the studio for Television, Film and Digital Media.
For more in-depth coverage, check out Jordan Brady's interview with director Jed Hathaway on "Respect the Process", a weekly podcast about commercial filmmaking, listen here.