“Before you see it, you sense it”, says Honda Middle East in its newest campaign created by aka Media and Dentsu. The campaign moves away from dramatic sand dune landscapes, influencer cameos and desert shots which are native to Dubai, instead favouring elegance , beauty and style.
Following the new vehicle across the city, clean lines, reflections and stunning architecture create a modern, cohesive feel which fits with the aesthetic the brand was hoping to achieve. With couture designer Michel Chino involved in the spot, high fashion was clearly considered in the campaign which was filmed in Dubai’s Media City. With pops of colour scattered within the considered outfit choices, the futuristic-feeling campaign with its elegant tone spoke to Honda’s audience as the campaign drove them around the city.
aka Media’s directors Zubin Mistry and Tejal Patni spoke to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about the process of creating the spot.
LBB> What was the starting point of this campaign? What did the clients want to see?
Zubin & Tejal> From the outset when we were approached by aka Media and Dentsu to bring to life this style in motion idea, it was very clear that we all wanted to see something very different. As we developed the treatment it became very apparent that this needed to be a high fashion film while still keeping the HR-V in the spotlight. The client wanted to see the car as it was never seen before, the images needed to be premium like what one sees in BMW and Mercedes ads, fused together for the fashion looks of high-end brands
LBB> How long did it take to shoot this campaign?
Zubin & Tejal> This was shot on location over two days with two camera units.
LBB> Where did you shoot the spot and how did you go about finding locations that fit the style of the campaign?
Zubin & Tejal> Once the narrative was agreed upon it was important to find a location where we could drive the car slowly so the models could react with the HRV in a controlled environment. Also, reflections were an integral part of the visuals. Finding new locations in Dubai is never easy as we are always looking for something different so the location scouting was a big part of the process in pre-production and every frame was very carefully planned, even for the driving shots that we shot in Business bay.
LBB> Fashion was clearly an integral aspect of the campaign. How did you choose the outfits you featured?
Zubin & Tejal> We decided to get one of the best couture designers Michel Chino involved. His larger-than-life designs elevated the visuals to new heights, this was truly a dream come true for us.
LBB> The first shot of the Honda HR-V lights emerging from the smoke is striking. How did you decide that this would be the first visual image and what was the editing process like?
Zubin & Tejal> For us one of the key aspects of directing a car commercial is to bring a strong connection with the audience, no matter how beautiful the images are, if there is no emotion there is no connection and you end up with an editorial of pretty postcard images. Emotion becomes the number one aesthetic. So, the secret is to unfold the story bit by bit, giving the audience a chance to use their imagination and thus getting them involved, hence the design of the opening sequence with the car being revealed slowly through the mist.
The VO was integral in the unfolding of the film, almost coming in after the viewer was hooked and not spoon-fed which is so often the case in advertising. very often we completely undermine the intelligence of the audience and we were determined not to do that in this film. The edit had to be linear for that reason so we could end on a high and leave the viewer wanting more.
LBB> The use of reflection is significant within the shots. What were some of the challenges of shooting in this way?
Zubin & Tejal> Reflections bring on a whole new dimension to visual storytelling especially when it comes to cars and the location we picked in media city was a perfect fit for our stage, It is very difficult to fake reflections and the only successful way is when the location lends itself effortlessly. The biggest challenge is that we are looking at things in the reflections that we sometimes didn’t want to see, but that was overcome by post production clean ups and in some case background replacements.
LBB> Which aspect of the campaign was most satisfying to see in the final piece? And why?
Zubin & Tejal> It felt like all the stars were aligned on this project. Most importantly we had a client that bought into a very bold idea and embraced the final result wholeheartedly, which is somewhat rare these days. The actual creative from Dentsu was already very progressive and taking it to the next level became a very comfortable process, the aka Media team then pulled out all the stops and gave us complete freedom.
Fashion and car mix films are not a new idea; we intended to make a film that evoked emotion and the most satisfying thing to see was the hair-raising goosebumps that the film delivered to the audience.
LBB> Tell us about some of the reactions to the spot. How has the audience responded?
Zubin & Tejal> The general audience had goosebumps when they saw the film, but as directors what is more important is whether the campaign worked for the client, as there is very little point in making a great film that doesn’t sell the product. In this case, it was a success story and Honda actually sold more HRVs than they expected to, to the point that they ran out of stock.