W+K and Juan Cabral Team Up for Visually Hypnotic Honda Civic Ad

Making that extra-sensory connection

When does a drive to the grocery store become a feast for the senses?

When you're behind the wheel of a Honda Civic, at least according to this short film by Wieden + Kennedy London and MJZ director Juan Cabral.

Fueled by a rockin' riff, the hypnotic :60 celebrates Civic's low driving position, which apparently provides a more intense ride. As wing-mirrors morph into odd abstractions, various mundane aspects of tooling around town serve as road-marks on a cheekily surreal trip:

Honda Civic | Feel More

That ant was either CG, or else it has a really great trainer!

"The closer to the road, the more you feel," we're told near the conclusion of the ad, which anchors a pan-European push with out-of-home elements and social outreach in the mix.

"We wanted to communicate the Honda Civic's low aerodynamic profile and advanced sportiness in a way that felt unexpected and visually interesting," says W+K London creative director Joe De Souza.

To that end, "when things are up close and personal—right before your eyes, at your fingertips, under your feet—that's where it starts to get interesting; everything's heightened," De Souza says.

Cabral and crew effectively convey that message in a style that feels unusual for the category. In fact, it runs counter to the car-as-oasis trend we've seen from Nissan's Rogue and Murano, and in a recent novel New Zealand traffic safety PSA. The spot's visual flair (and especially that spinning tire!) recalls W+K's jaunty work for Lurpak, the latest helping of which rolled out today.

Of course, it's all a matter of taste. Some folks view cars as vehicles for escaping life's fast lane, while others crave a ride that makes their hearts race a bit faster.

W+K London creative Pete Browse chats with Muse about making the unusual spot:

Where the "close-to-the-road" notion sprang from.

The idea was born from the product truth that this generation of the Civic has a lower driving position that its predecessor. Translated, this means the driver should feel connected with the car and as close to the road as possible. From there, it wasn't a huge leap to focus our creative storytelling in this space, between the road and the bottom of the seat.

Targeting a younger audience.

The sportier angles of this car, combined with the focus on driving performance, go hand in hand with a slightly younger generation of driver than the Civic had previously attracted. This model has a bold, even polarizing look, so is aimed at people who like to stand out from the crowd and who like Honda's individual approach.

On working with Juan Cabral.

Juan Cabral is one of those names Max Batten and I always wanted to work with but hadn't had the chance. From the legendary Cadbury's Gorilla to his recent simple yet cinematic Apple work, he brings something special to his filmmaking. The idea demanded both a technical and cinematic storyteller. When we began our director's search, his name came up pretty much straight away, but it was more in the "wouldn't-it-be-cool-if" category. Nonetheless, we sent him an outreach presentation—the script along with our ambition for the spot—to see what he thought. We heard back that he loved it and his treatment had us sold from the opening line: "I want to tell that tale of a trip to the shops covered by a 1,000 different cameras."

On turning a trip to the supermarket into a visual smorgasbord.

We wrote the script like a play. We had a beginning and an end—the driver's house—with a pace-lowering interlude at the shops. Now it was just a case of writing scenarios of things we imagined becoming more interesting and visually pleasing when down low to the ground.

Things like driving through a puddle becoming a huge tidal wave, which was achieved with a metal blade akin to a dust pan fixed to the front of a custom camera rig. Or a crack in the road turning into the Grand Canyon, which was achieved by the art department fabricating a crack out of fresh tarmac on a closed street in Amsterdam, where the ad was filmed.

Most of the scenes are achieved in camera—the pigeon included a shot with a mirror lens so we could place the camera at ground level to look up at a towering pigeon. But the ant was done using CGI. We couldn't quite get the performance we wanted—half said in jest. We had taxidermy soldier ants on set.

When it comes to abstract shots like the mirror, that harks back to Juan's treatment opening line: a tale told with 1,000 different cameras. He wanted the edit to feel feel like he was the director of a live sports event—switching between the different angles, everything being covered, but choosing when to show and what. With that in mind, of course one or two of the shots would be slightly more arty and abstract. The shots are very Kubrick sci-fi. We love them.

Naturally, shooting got hectic.

The film was shot over three hectically busy days in Amsterdam, with two units. That schedule saw Juan one moment shooting pigeons to the next jumping on the back of a filming low-loader to shoot the interior from the footwell of the car between the pedals. One thing we learned from the shoot is that there is such a thing as working with kids and animals and getting away with it. That's if you're working with a pigeon wrangler—his actual title—who always had a pigeon in each hand prepped to go on to set in case the one on camera wasn't behaving.

Some concepts just didn't fly.

Some [ideas] didn't make the final script, one of note being the camera attached to a leaf in the road being flung up as the Civic drives past, spiraling us up into the air. When we showed our ECD Tony Davidson that version of the script, his feedback was: "Keep things low, down close to the road. That is your idea."

The soundtrack thumps old-school.

The music search was challenging with differing opinions of what delivered on the idea. The music is an original guitar piece composed for the spot. In the end we landed on something with mass appeal to serve so many different markets.


Client: Honda
Project Name: Feel More
Media Channels: TV, Online, OOH
Client Name: Fabrice Estève, Jonathan Allee
Launch Date: February 2020
Markets: Europe
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy London
Creative Director: Joe De Souza
Creatives: Max Batten, Pete Browse
Executive Creative Directors: Tony Davidson, Iain Tait
Group Account Director: Nick Owen
Account Director: James McHoull, Sam Hunton
Planner: Georgia Challis
TV Producer: Matt Ellingham
TV Production Assistant: Aran Patterson
Production Company: MJZ
Director: Juan Cabral
Production Company Producer: Sookie Foster
Editor: Russel Icke
VFX Company: TBA
Sound Company: 750mph
Sound Designer: Sam Ashwell
Music Company - Mr Pape
Music Supervisor / Producer - John Connon
Composer - Rohan De Livera

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