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'The Super Bowl is the right place for big news' - Honda's AVP of marketing Tom Peyton on the brand's animal-themed game day ad

After taking a break last year, Honda is back in the Super Bowl this year with a one-minute ad that features sheep singing Queen’s ‘Somebody To Love.’

Created by Honda’s longtime agency RPA, the auto brand is using the spot to promote its 2017 Ridgeline truck.

In 2014, Honda ran an ad during the Super Bowl called ‘Hugfest’ that featured Bruce Willis and Portlandia’s Fred Armisen.

The Drum spoke with Honda’s AVP of marketing Tom Peyton to find out why the brand decided to release its animal-themed spot ahead of the game and why he thinks advertising in the Super Bowl is a good investment if you’ve got the right message.

Why did you decide to do a one-minute ad instead of a thirty-second one?

I think about 60 percent of the spots in the Super Bowl this year are one-minute ads. There’s a few 90-second ones and then obviously the balance are 30-second ones. It just gives you a better opportunity to tell your story. At the end of the day, this is still the one media property where people are tuning in first in some cases to see the commercials or are certainly welcoming the commercials. For that purpose, you want to make sure you are making them as entertaining as possible and obviously a one-minute format can do that in many cases better than a 30-second format. Although I will tell you we do have a 30-second NSX spot that works very well also in the Super Bowl this year.

Why have you decided to give people a sneak peek of the ad ahead of this Sunday?

There are some commercials, for example with the Bruce Willis one, there was a little bit of a surprise at the end of that and we thought that was part of the cache of that commercial so we only did teasers prior to that one rather than release the whole spot.

This spot, it’s just very entertaining, there isn’t really a surprise with it per se, it felt more appropriate to go out ahead of time. Certainly there are going to be those people who see it ahead of time, and when they’re at their Super Bowl party, they’ll tell everybody "hey, you gotta check this out, it’s a great spot" when it comes on.

At the end of the day, it’s an expensive investment to be involved with the Super Bowl. You’re trying to maximize value. I’m going to guess that there is some percentage of advertisers who are going to release them early like we are. It just helps you to get maximum value out of the spot.

Aside from promoting the Ridgeline, are you strategically using this ad to try and say anything else about the Honda brand?

We hope the spot does a couple of things for us. One, it’s big news that we’re back in the truck business and the Super Bowl is the right place for big news. The second thing is, it’s still a story about Honda innovation and the fact that we have this very unique in-bed speaker system along with a couple of other features it shows in the commercial. At the end of the day, we hope it’s a good branding statement too where people think Honda’s a clever brand that brings out cool, innovative products. Again, the Super Bowl is great for that because even if you aren’t looking for a truck in the future, it’s just a great brand message.

Why do you feel like it’s important for a brand like Honda to be an advertiser in the Super Bowl?

If you have the right message, it’s a good media buy. There are not too many places in one fell swoop you can reach arguably more than 100 million people watching the spot and then arguably tens of millions more, pre and post, checking out your spot online. If you’ve got the money and you’ve got the message, it’s a good investment.

Why do you think this year’s ad will stand out among all the others?

Who else is going to have singing sheep and cute border collies as their spokespeople in an ad? At the end of the day, it’s a very Super Bowl-esque ad. I think it’s entertaining, it gets the message across, it’s exactly what people are tuning in for. I don’t know if it’s going to be the number one ad or the number 30 ad but I think we’re going to generate a lot of interest in our new truck and that’s all I really care about. I care about getting the message across and creating a lot of discussion about our product.

For more news and interviews around Super Bowl 50, check The Drum's dedicated content section.