16 Jul 2013

Honda celebrates history with Hands

Let’s see what curiosity can do? A wonderfully enticing question which perfectly sets the scene for Honda’s magical branded film.

‘Hands’ is a celebration of Honda’s 65 years and is a tribute to its innovative and pioneering spirit.

The film, created by Wieden+Kennedy, depicts a pair of engineer's hands sculpting and playing with Honda’s products and achievements.

It begins with a humble nut – of the tool variety not the edible type - to signify the start of the production process. The nut is quickly transformed into Honda’s very first engine; the Type A, and so the transformation begins to reveal Honda cars, motorbikes, robots and jet engines. 

The film focuses on the curious spirit that is behind Honda’s products and ends on the brand’s tagline ‘The Power To Dream’.

In Honda’s own words: “The campaign includes ground-breaking historical and concept products as well as current machinery - all reflecting Honda’s passion for friendly technology, useful design and ultimately, ‘The Power of Dreams'". 

It was created to support the brand’s sponsorship of UK’s Channel 4 documentaries and launched as 4 cut-down promos, which screened around the TV programming.

The complete film is housed on an interactive website which features notes from the engineer's perspective explaining the thinking and the curiosity that lead to each Honda achievements creation.

Olivia Dunn, head of marketing at Honda UK, said: "We are particularly excited about this year's campaign as it celebrates and really brings to life all the achievements that company has made over the last 65 years. “

“Honda has plenty to shout about and has lots of stories to tell and we want to shout them as loud as we can.”

Wieden+Kennedy executive creative directors Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth told The Drum: "Honda has always believed in The Power of Dreams. This has continued to lead them to new insights and technologies.”

“We wanted to tell the story of Honda's inquisitive spirit and the brand's journey of innovation over the last 65 years, in a new engaging way. We are celebrating the curiosity of the Honda engineers, who have made Honda what it is today."


Honda has created a lovely brand film with Hands, which really embodies the magic and curious spirit of the brand.

The opening shot of the film, featuring a nut rolling into frame, feels like a nod to the brand’s iconic ‘Cog’ commercial, which really helped position the brand as a leader in innovation.

'Hands' has already been widely compared to Cog and it’s receiving much praise as a fitting follow up to that groundbreaking film.

In 'Hands' Honda has captured the magic of storytelling, creating a whimsical world where the engineer conjures and sculpts, like a magician revealing Honda's greatest achievements.

The film is a treat, enjoyable to watch and bursting with the charm and curious delight that Honda’s brand has come to embody.

What’s interesting though, is for all that is wonderful about the film and the story of Honda, the rest of the campaign lacks the very same energy, curious spirit and groundbreaking concepts that it is celebrating.

Beyond the film, things get very simple and very flat. The site is interactive in the most simple sense, you can click on a title which pauses the video and reveals a collection of notes and quotes from the engineers about the Honda product. It’s nice, but it’s hardly groundbreaking and in many ways it ignites more questions for curious minds than it answers.

The notes hint at fascinating stories, like Honda's dream to build an F1 car for the road and the move to get Ayrton Senna to test it. “Engineers question his suggestion for special tyres...Senna: Do you want my thoughts or don't you? The tyres are fitted immediately" It's an intriguing partnership and exchange but this viewer was left wanting much more. 

I feel that Honda missed a trick here to create an engaging truly interactive experience to bring these stories to life and allow viewers to engage with the curious thinking and innovation behind Honda’s products.

I was hoping to find the stories behind the products and innovations, to get a sense of what was driving the engineers and to fall down the rabbit hole and follow a trail of interesting content, but all I got was a few notes, quotes and images.

It feels like a missed opportunity to reward the curiosity of Honda customers and fans who might seek out the content online. Honda is no stranger to creating this sort of content, in 2009 the brand launched an online documentary series called Dream the Impossible. The strategy was to engage consumers by revealing the reality behind the brand and its philosophy. 

Clearly this was not the strategy for Hands, which seeks to celebrate Honda's heritage of achievements, but not to delve deeply into the stories behind the individual achievements. However the strategy of celebrating innovation and curiosity cries out for a really innovative campaign, and it is here that Honda may have dropped the ball. 

This is a brand that has consistently produced some of the most memorable and iconic advertising of the last decade. From Cog to Impossible Dream, Honda has been intelligent, inspiring, emotive, ground breaking and always maintained that magical quality. Hands is no exception. It is a worthy piece of film to sit alongside Honda's heritage of epic films. 

But for a brand which inspires curiosity and has become synonymous with potential, it feels like this is a campaign full of potential and unrealised dreams. It leaves me wondering can Honda bring this innovative, ground breaking spirit to life in mediums and platforms other than film?


While Innovation and curiosity are at the heart of the Honda film, the opportunity to take viewers on an engaging cross-platform, transmedia journey through Honda’s rich heritage and engineering advancements, was missed.\

  • I give it 3 stars. 
  • Brand: Honda
  • Creative companies: Wieden+Kennedy, Smith & Foulkes, Nexus Productions & Collective London



Jon McKie

16 Sep 2014

Great review Danielle. I am a huge Honda fan having worked with Honda both in the UK and in Australia. I agree these make great films and that the website experience is disappointing. I know nothing about the campaign's objectives but suspect that there was only a limited budget available to follow through with a whole suite of online content, after all the films were just created as a documentary sponsorship indents. What's more the messaging is really no different to the 'Impossible Dream' campaign, so Honda would have been reluctant to invest much in doing a job that had already been done.

That said, I think Magic Hands does a much better job of showcasing Honda's range of products and it's commitment to innovation that 'Impossible dream' and I think deserves wider exposure than a Channel 4 documentary audience, where they are probably preaching to the converted.

4 stars
Jeremy Garling

16 Sep 2014

Nice job in highlighting both sides the the campaigns success.

I love the 'Impossible Dream' as it speaks to such a range of audiences at different parts of their life...and the campaign moves seamless across product type.

Does it make me want to buy one...no, does it make me more aware of Honda and think twice...maybe.

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