The Honda Civic Tour is back, this time with American pop rock band OneRepublic as headliners. The summer tour, now in its 16th year, also features a culinary pop-up in 10 markets called Civic Tour City Flavor, a special-edition Honda Civic Type R and Honda Rebel motorcycle custom-designed by the musical group and a contest to win a new Honda. It’s all designed to engage fans either on-site or online and amplify the tour’s reach.
The millennials who flock to music concerts and festivals represent a coveted demo for Honda and just about every other brand on the planet. But connecting with this savvy group, which is turned off by blatant marketing and pretty picky when it comes to brand loyalty, is no simple matter. More than 4.5 million fans have attended Honda Civic Tour concert events since 2001, and this year’s Civic Tour City Flavor component adds a digital level of engagement for fans off-site. As the top-selling model to under-35 buyers in six of the past seven years, according to IHS Markit, a media company based in Washington, D.C., Honda is definitely on to something.
What’s the secret of the Honda Civic Tour’s success? “I don’t know that there is a secret. It’s much like any marketing program,” says Alicia Jones, national advertising manager at Honda. “We are continually evaluating results and always looking at ways to optimize what we are doing to make sure it is the most efficient, cost-wise, and getting us the most reach and hitting all of our KPIs.”
Here’s a closer look at how Honda does it:
Honda researches the tour’s impact each year in terms of brand lift, familiarity and consideration for the Honda brand overall and Honda Civic in particular. “We are seeing great opt-ins, great attendees and great views of the online content, and that in combination with its being efficient means that it is working for us,” Jones says.
No question about it: Honda signs talent that is hot. Past headliners have included One Direction, Maroon 5, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Linkin Park and others. The artists hit the sweet spot with Honda’s target audience, and they have new music or a new album coming out, which is key to a successful tour and ticket sales.
Honda works with dealer advertising associations and dealer groups across the country, garnering support for the tour from an upper-funnel level and a lower-funnel level. “Dealer groups get excited because it is relevant to their local market. They do radio promotions and whatnot to support it, too,” Jones adds. “Top to bottom it’s been a great program for us.” Agency: Marketing Factory, Venice, CA.