Honda “Experiment” Tests Shallowness, Vanity

narc Honda Motor Company is running a marketing campaign packaged as a “social experiment.” The cover story is to see how much people “love” Honda automobiles by inviting them to post personal photos and blurbs on the Facebook “social” networking site.

The truth, of course, is that what Honda is really testing is how effectively they can convert people’s petty vanity and sheer programmability into still more irrational brand loyalty.

Have people been falling into this trap?

The results thus far have blown away Mr. Peyton, who felt at the campaign’s onset that “If we got a million connections, that would be cool.” He called the push “a pretty powerful piece of advertising because people are buying into it and we aren’t giving anything away.”

Honda initially supported the site with a sprinkling of ads on Facebook. “It wasn’t a big media buy, but it got a lot of attention,” said Tom Peyton, senior manager-national advertising. Earlier this month, TV was added to the mix, with 15- and 30-second spots featuring actual owners. The commercials were created by Honda’s longtime agency, independent RPA, Santa Monica, which developed the concept. The buy, also handled by RPA, encompasses prime-time programming such as “30 Rock,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Dancing With the Stars” and NFL football.

The campaign got a huge boost after a one-day targeted homepage takeover Oct. 19 on high-reach sites, including, and That more than doubled the number of Facebook fans into the range of 1.7 million. (As of press time Oct. 22, the number had topped 2 million).

Footnote: As of this morning, the number of victims of this campaign is approaching 2.5 million.

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Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter
Lisa @ Corporate Babysitter
10 years ago

Nice. I’ve wondered about this approach when it comes to kids and teens, too — using vanity for brand loyalty. Interesting.

10 years ago

I was interested in finding more about why Facebook is “hateful”, to add to the posts here mentioning it that I remember, so I did a search on this site for “Facebook”. The search stopped going back at “The “Social Network” Trap” dated December 3, 2008, which is recent enough so I have read it, but still wanted an “Oh yeah”-type reminder. But when I clicked on the title, it said “Not Found Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn’t there.”

Guess these computers stick together to protect Facebook’s reputation!

10 years ago

Thanks Michael! I remembered that it’s a platform for big business to do marketing research on millions of people without paying them, but as usual your language is SO much better: “cynically planned, BBM-sponsored, wildly popular, narcissism-promoting social control operation”, heh!

My other beef with Facebook is that, for those who don’t have ten quinzillion “friends”, it’s like Valentine’s Day: it might be great if you’re included among the people it’s for, but if you’re not it’s a cruel reminder that you’re left out in the cold.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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