Advertising Honda

Honda retires memorable marketing machine and mascot bot Asimo


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

July 2, 2018 | 5 min read

If you've ever watched a Honda ad over the last decade, chances are, Asimo, the white mobility robot has been walking about, increasingly, in the peripherals of the work.

Honda ignition

Asimo walks into the sunset in Honda Ignition

Asimo or (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) was put out to pasture this week. For 18 years Honda frequently leaned on the mascot bot to showcase its commitment to innovation and the latest technologies in its marketing campaigns.

Serving as a friendly and familiar digital face for audiences to gawp over, Honda described Asimo as 'the world's most advanced humanoid robot'. Once it may have been true, now the technology has been replicated or matched across the board, and even the likes of Sophia the Robot is arguably taking the press-tine that may have once been offered to the bot.

Below is an ode, or an obituary, to the walking bot.

It was the first robot to walk on two legs and in 2002 it did so for the Canadian market walking into the scene with groundbreaking, but limited, mobility.

In 2006, Asimo landed in the UK. This was the machine’s debut in the market, landing just in time for Christmas.

At the time, Jeff Dodds, head of marketing at Honda (UK), said: “We’re always looking to develop technology that is approachable and warm, and by that I mean innovations people can appreciate, engage with and relate to.

"Asimo is a serious research project for Honda, but also has the ability to put smiles on people’s faces and so embodies perfectly our ‘warm technology’ approach.”

During the noughties and the inception of the viral video, Honda had "found kindred spirits in Wieden+Kennedy," according to Chris Brown, the brand's head of marketing Europe. The agency helped deliver some of the top creative campaigns, many of which featured Asimo.

This was a follow up to the acclaimed Impossible Dream. At the time, Ian Armstrong, Honda's marketing manager, said: "We've never shot Asimo in an ad before.

"It has a whole range of movements but it has never had to follow the wishes of a director for little nuances and sentiments." The engineer team claimed that it was important for Asimo to be able to perform the actual tasks portrayed in the task.

Meanwhile over in Japan, Run was running to show how machine's are coming close to achieving greater mobility than their human creators.

In later years, it said it was to leverage Asimo technology to advance its driverless car technology but it also appeared countless times on chatshows and the media, furthering the Honda brand.

Asimo started cropping up in branded videos, like this work for Auto Express in 2014 where it was tasked with hitting penalties and tending bar. By this time, the Polish were treated to a dancing bot feature with a new and improved Asimo.

But then, in what appears to be a final swansong, the bot made a brief appearance in 2016 hero film Ignition, showing the brand shooting to the stars after several decades of cutting-edge engineering.

The robot appears to have been given a knowing sunset moment in the work from Wieden+Kennedy, Somesuch's Aoife McArdle and The Mill.

As for the company's next step, it claims to have salvaged the tech in its self-driving and artificial intelligence products.

Asimo also lives on in a lawnmower robot, released in 2017.

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