Honda Sponsors Sundance Despite Economy

In 2009, Honda is sponsoring properties that help it promote its “power of dreams” campaign. First up, Sundance Film Festival. The New York Times reports that Honda’s plans call for a film short produced by the auto maker’s agency to run before “Mary and Max,” a claymated feature which is the first film to be screened at the festival.

Honda will also provide transportation, a perennial PITA for attendees at the Sundance, in one of 12 new Insight hybrid small hatchbacks. Another new Honda, the FCX Clarity, a fuel-cell car, will be on display at the festival.

So far, nothing remarkable, right? But it is noteworthy that despite weak sales in the United States, (down 34.7 percent in December compared with the same month of 2007) Honda is sticking with its “power of dreams” campaign which started in September 2007. It’s a branding campaign, not an advertising/sales driven effort. As Honda spokesperson Barbara Ponce explained, “This is not a ‘Go out and buy a Honda’ campaign.” Ponce, who manages corporate advertising and signs off on arts and entertainment sponsorship deals at Honda’s U.S headquarters in Torrance Calif., said the Sundance deal is more about “communicating with our customers about what our brand stands for.”

As the consumer market stays in the deep freeze for big ticket purchases, some brands are trying to preserve that part of their budgets that are most directly aimed at selling. It is interesting that Honda has taken an artful turn and decided it’s better to inspire desire than push product.