Yet More About That Honda Cog Ad’

Go to the ad'
at Beam TVDiane Colcord from Tillamook, Oregon, dropped me an email to say thanks for the link to watch the ad on the Honda site. She also sent me this article from ‘The Oregonian’, as Honda’s Advertising Agency, Wieden+Kennedy, is based in Portland Oregon. One of the things it tells us is how lucky we are in the UK to see this. I was certain it would “Go Global” but it seems, maybe not. The following is condensed from an article by JEFF MANNING:

Devotees of Mousetrap know that the primary attraction of the children’s board game was watching to see whether the contraption of gears, chutes and ramps would actually work and send the plastic trap descending over your toy mouse.

Imagine a supercharged Mousetrap designed by a team of engineers, sculptors and art directors on a $1 million budget, and you get the idea behind Wieden+Kennedy’s new ad for Honda. The spot, dubbed “Cog,” was introduced to raves earlier this month in the United Kingdom. “Cog” features 85 car parts linked in a beautifully synchronized dance that ends in the introduction of Honda’s new Accord. No car careening along a mountain highway. No classic rock. No truck plowing through a bog in ultra-slow motion. Just a bunch of ball bearings, valve stems, flywheels and mufflers quietly smacking into one another in a chain reaction that would make Rube Goldberg smile.

Dan Wieden is also smiling . . . The “Cog” spot grew out of Wieden’s efforts to portray Honda’s engineering prowess. Although Honda is among the leading brands in the industry in the United States, it has fought an image problem in England, where its products are viewed as inferior to the elite European brands.

“We used the term ‘warm engineering’ to describe the feeling that we wanted to get across with the new Accord,” said Kim Papworth, creative director of Wieden’s London office. “It’s a term to describe the very precise and intricate way of Honda engineering but in the typically human, plain-speaking way that is Honda’s tone of voice.” It took five months of production and design work before “Cog” was ready to shoot. Then the real work began. In the course of a week in a Paris studio, crews agonized through 605 takes. Every time, something went wrong — a rolling gear missed its mark, the oil can poured too much or too little oil, the disembodied windshield wipers did not come to life with a squirt of liquid as planned. Finally, on the 606th take, the amazing assembly worked.

Wieden+Kennedy staffers swear that no trick photography was used and that the final successful run-through was filmed in real time. The only voice in the ad is from Garrison Keillor, who intones at the end, “Isn’t it nice when things just … work?”


Honda was so taken with the finished product it paid for a two-minute debut showing of the ad during the Brazilian Grand Prix. The British press love the ad. ” ‘Cog’ looks certain to become an advertising legend,” wrote a reporter for the Telegraph of London. For now anyway, the only way for U.S. audiences to see the ad is on the Internet. Honda has a different ad agency in the United States, and the chance of the company showing “Cog” remains uncertain.

Jeff Manning can be contacted on: 503-294-7606 or I hope the Orgeonian will forgive my copying some of Jeff’s article here, and thanks for sending it, Diane.


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