You have to hand it to the automakers, who despite dismal sales lately have continued to push forward with their digital campaigns, making significant investments in web video. Honda is the latest to develop original video series wrapped in a branded content portal with their Dream The Impossible documentary web series.
The portal is a broadly stroked project aimed at capturing the essence of the brand, similar to Lexus’ original web series channel L Studio. Perhaps the credit for kicking off this whole trend is due to BMW who took the digital leap way back in 2001 with The Hire. That was back well before YouTube and ubiquitous streaming video, but that didn’t stop them from netting over 11 million views in four months.
The fourth episode of Dream, or perhaps really its own short film, was just released and is dubbed Dreams vs. Nightmares. It probes the literal and metaphorical relationships we have with our dreams and nightmares, prompting some much-needed reflection on our use of those words. The Honda brand clearly plays a larger role in the series than say the L Studio comedies, using Honda engineers and executives as documentary commentators alongside more notable names like Deepak Chopra and Clive Barker. That’s not to say their presence corrupts the content, as some of their insights feel quite in line with the subject.
This is a case where the project emerged right out of the brand itself, with Honda’s ad agency of record, Santa Monica-based RPA, whipping up the campaign and enlisting some high-level production partners to make it happen. For the latest one, it was documentary vets @radical.media (they produced Errol Morris’ Fog of War) along with director Joe Berlinger.
What’s interesting, and somewhat refreshing to see, is that they publicly display the view counts on the four episodes. So far the first in the series, Failure: The Secret to Success, is leading the pack with 323,144 views and the others contributing just over 275,000 more views. That’s not bad considering the only place the series are viewable is the dreams.honda.com branded subdomain.
Apparently the strategy was to drive traffic to the site via a number of 30-second pre-roll spots on sites like Hulu, ABC.com, TV.com and Crackle and display ad placements. The latest video was also added to Honda’s YouTube channel, but the video is getting much more attention on the honda site. Honda’s YouTube strategy seems to be the admission that they need to be there, but not aggressively driving eyeballs to it. Right now it has just over 3,000 subscribers.
Two more are still forthcoming in the series and are currently still in production with a planned release later this summer.