Welcome to my Site

29 Nov

This site is dedicated to researching Honda’s “The Cog” advert and all of the elements that created it, affected it and its effects on society and the World.

It has the fruits of my research, including many videos meant to support my arguments and keep this site interesting and interactive.

I want people to enjoy their time on my website, so please enjoy the media available to you because it should always be viewed when reading the blog its attached to.

I also designed an interactive XMind – I-map

http://www.xmind.net/share/SkyePainter/the-cog-2/ [31]

[JPEG screenshot uploaded by Peter Dukes to confirm state at deadline]

Copy that link into your browser to view the interactive mindmap.This is to help people navigate my site and to show the connections between my many posts. Its simple to use simply click outline then one of the Topics and it will take you to the related blog post or video.

That being said browse away and enjoy your time on my site


Critical Review

29 Nov

As you know I have been conducting extensive research into Honda’s Cog advert and have come to the point where I must write a review that displays my understanding of this ad and how it affected the World. This is great because now I have the information to back up my arguments. The questions I ask myself now are to try and ascertain just how successful this ad was. I can only do that by seeing how it affected the industry and its target audience. The two questions are interlinked they will merge at times within my essay. So my two questions I will be covering during my critical review will be:

How did it affect its target audience?

What was The Cog’s effect on the UK advertising market?

Honda took the UK by surprise on its release day of 6th April 2003. When it was aired during the commercial break to the Brazilian Grand Prix. It is important to consider the people who watch the Grand Prix are avid car lovers and families because its a Sunday. Why people enjoy grand prix I don’t understand  watching cars go round and round an oval shaped track makes me sleepy. So it was quite a strategic airing for the first viewing of the Cog and it sparked quite a few articles in British newspapers. More importantly the day after the Cog was aired “Honda’s website received more hits than at any time in history, and overnight became the second largest automotive website.”

This kind of reaction to an ad is unheard of in the ad industry and I’m sure it was because of the fact that The Cog is so different to so many other ads we see on TV today. The reasons I think it was so successful is because firstly: Its interactive. While you were viewing the ad you didn’t really get the feeling your being sold something until the end of the ad. The genius behind the ads design and the way that the parts interact with each other so seamlessly is fascinating to the average human whatever age or race. You could show this ad to a baby and it would catch its interest then you could show it to a 70 year old and he would probably say that it was interesting to watch. Both people would given the option probably hit the red button to see more of the ad just like the 1/4 million people who did so. What better way to reach out to your target audience and better way than to actually allow people to respond to the ad and then give them access to more information such as a brochure or DVD while not interrupting their viewing experience.

Secondly the Cog does not look like and still doesn’t look like any other car advert I have ever seen. It is unique. It’s that uniqueness and the way that it’s so different from the ordinary that sparks interest within the minds of those who watch it they think “Oh this looks different and interesting what is it?” and start to pay attention. It did not conform to the conventions of advertising at the time and was successful because of that. People these days often switch the channel when ads play to watch another channel that doesn’t have ads because 80% of ads are ignored or do not ingrain into our memory in essence they are a waste of time.

This advert you see it and your struck by how interesting it looks visually as a complicated contraption. Its only at the end that you realize its selling you a Honda Accord? Most people will probably be so amazed by the ad they think “Oh this must be a good product lets take a look.” I think that’s why “97% of viewers rated their experience positively with an average dwell time of 2½ minutes. A significant minority spent up to 10 minutes watching the ad.” [1] This far exceeds any of the responses I have ever seen while working in the advertising industry. I have worked on ads aired on television lower budget ones but they were not even remembered and they did increase customer attention to the brand name but not this kind of direct response that people had to the Cog.

“In addition, over 10,000 people requested a DVD or brochure, equating to a response rate of 0.32% – five times the car category average.” [2]

The advert was part of the campaign The Power of Dreams and supported by a well designed modern, interactive website with a wealth of information on all of Honda’s products. So not only did people get a chance to look at the Accord but Honda used the ad to attract attention to itself and its other products. As a result The Cog is regarded as one of the most influential and successful ads of the decade.

I cannot argue against this because most of my statements are based on facts that I have learnt after studying the Cog extensively. It’s not because I like The Cog but because it was so influential and successful returning approximately 200% on investments and all off a 1 million budget. “Winning more awards from television and advertising industries than any commercial in history, including a Cannes Gold Lion, two IPA Effectiveness Awards, and a Grand Clio.” [3]There’s the proof

Moving on to the second question about how The Cog affected the advertising industry. The main effect it had on the industry was to raise the standard in advertising in the UK as a whole. They showed the UK that if you want to be successful you have to take a risk and do something different to the mainstream. Something artistic, interactive, creative and attention grabbing.

It made people within the industry stop and think about going interactive which is why we see more interactive adverts in the UK now. Which is why we are seeing rapid growth within the interactive advertising sector and will continue to see different ways in which ads will interact with the public. Some estimate that UK Interactive advertising Revenues will reach US$9.9 Billion by 2012. [4] I see a direct connection between this growth and The Cog.

A compilation of Ads in the UK form 2003

My reasons being: other advertising agencies  always keep an eye on they’re competitors and their audiences. After seeing how successful The Cog was they could not deny the effectiveness of the interactive ad. Interactive ads have been around before the Cog but to really entice large amounts of people to interact with your ad you have to have a good campaign for getting that ad to the target audience and it has to be interesting, intriguing or fun. It needs to be a much higher quality than the ads that what we were seeing  in 2003. Which were boring, safe to produce, relied too much on social conventions, dry humour and heavy brand name connotations. Quite frankly The Cog stands out like an Alien from Star Trek would if put into a London Zoo when put among these other ads and compared. It shares nothing in common.

It changed perceptions of what a good advert should be within the UK advertising industry. People started trying to think outside the box more. This has led to advancements within the advertising industry into how to make their adverts Unique. How to make them stand out, be recognized and remembered by viewers. This is probably why we see technologies like 3D being quickly snapped up and implemented in todays adverts to try and get a response similar to The Cog. However to be as successful as the Cog was they would need to do something drastic in this day and age where the advertising industry is one of the fastest evolving services within the UK market with one of the highest budgets. You wouldn’t believe the amount of money that businesses paid for the adverts shown above. Wasted cash just spent to keep their brand name alive and let people know there is a new product out there but not getting back much return from the advert.

Companies pump money into advertising firms pockets in the hope that it will keep their businesses alive or increase sales. Not realizing or caring much about how the ad is perceived by their target audience but often relying on the advertising agencies expertise in these matters which usually will want to make a safe advert with a low budget so that they can retain more profit. The Cog changed the way not only people within the industry think but also made companies more selective about how they reach out to their customers through more direct forms of advertising. Such as door to door salesmen which are highly effective means of advertising and sales combined. Interactive advertising. Also adverts that are more visually interesting and fun to watch than about the products they are selling example T-Mobiles ad campaign with people singing and dancing together in the train stations. These are things that I think The Cog set into motion.

The downside to this is that now consumers will have to put up with increasingly invasive ads that cannot be ignored because they interact with the public. Example advertising on YouTube videos near the play bar which everyone always closes but never read but they’re still there and you have to close them. I have seen research into larger scale interactive projected ads that are meant to interact with people who walk by. Most consumers don’t actually enjoy being bombarded by ads but accept it as part of everyday life in this growing universe of media that we surround ourselves in. We will increasingly have to try harder to ignore ads or reject them as they are pushed upon us. I see this as a cause of The Cogs success in interactive adverts. Even though we see a better quality of ads produced every year the majority of ads are a waste of people’s time and they would rather just watch the film that the ad is interrupting. Hopefully we will see some people create media channels without advertising so we can enjoy our programs in peace.

To conclude this I would like to state that the effect that Honda’s Cog had on its audience was to attract large amounts of attention from its viewers resulting in large amounts of sales of its products and services. New business connections, massive increase in traffic on its website. Increased respect from its customers. It also created fans of its ad campaign and products. It managed to put itself at the top of the list of best known brands of the 20th century. Quite a good result from one advert. The effects on the market was a positive influence inspiring advertising agencies to try to think outside the box and to spend more time creating a higher quality of ad instead of mass producing ads to follow the conventions. It inspired agencies to try new ways to interact with their target market resulting in increases in growth in the ways we can interact with ads. Honda & Wieden+Kennedy have continued to make ground-breaking advancements in 3D and interactive ads so they are still setting trends within the industry which other agencies either follow or are inspired by. But to this day the Cog will be remembered as the start of this positive change.

Writing plan for critical review

29 Nov

My research has brought me thus far and has left me with a few bigger questions which I will choose to write my critical review about. These are: What was The Cogs effect on the UK advertising market. How did it affect its target audience? I think these two questions should be argued from the positive effects to the negative effects on the advertising industry and also the effects on the public. This should be interesting to investigate now that I have enough material to reference within my blog. I should also consider during my conclusion how successful it was overall. This will help me to understand how it was perceived by the public. I shall try to keep my arguments concise and to the point. I will have to limit my referencing to small quotes or simply a hyperlink to the article I’m talking about. It should be structured similarly to my posts: introduction, main body of text arguing for and against both points, supporting evidence and conclusion. It should be like an essay that will be interesting to read and reflect my views and findings about the Cog on these two questions.

The Making of The Cog

29 Nov
Behind the scenes of the Honda Cog [5]


From the words of the people making the Cog it was a very long process a mission so to speak to create the perfect take. It started off at the drawing boards of Wieden+Kennedy who came up with the idea and developed that into a plan they could then give to the director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet and his team. Who then took that idea and started to try and work out how to visualize it and make it work. It took “one month script approval, 2 month in concept drawings and four months in development and testing.”[5]

They brought together people from the agency, film crews, special effects, photographers technicians, equipment needed and of course the cars. The cars were dissected at the start of the process to really see what parts were inside them that could be used. They then worked out the best way to lay them out encountering many problems as they went but surpassing them buy using other ways of making the machine. I saw more intertextuality within the making of the film than in the actual ad. In some of their concept designs they wanted to use fire and some scenes that looked very similar to The Way Things Go. However in the end I think there were two scenes that I would say quote from Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The one with the tires going up the ramp and the scene with the spanner like contraption hitting a metal cylinder to make it roll forward. Then again who really cares in this modern age intertextuality is part of life, its part of creating new things because its part of our history. The makers of the film admitted to watching The Way Things Go and were inspired. But they created a piece of work very different in the end that was a success.

They spent four months in various studios around the country trying to get their designs to work but when they thought they had the right layout and measurements. They then moved to the final studio where they did the final take which also provided the background for the job. They used a large crane for the camera, with three people operating the crane and camera. The perfect lighting with technicians in charge of getting it right. Then came the testing again, and again and again. trying to get that perfect take. They divided it into two parts but after 656 takes they got the sequence they wanted and were obviously very happy. They were happy with themselves because they were given a very technically difficult, artistic, intricate challenge to make an ad and overcame the problems in the way to then create one of the most successful ads in modern media.


Textual Analysis of Cog

28 Nov


Element of Text – Meanings:

Constant motion – The advert is a Rube Goldberg machine so it represents constant motion. At the same time they’re trying to make us link Rube Golberg machines to cars. Essentially a car is one big Rube Goldberg machine because were trying to achieve the simple task of motion. From the moment you turn the key in the ignition there are a so many things that are set into motion first inside of the car before you can drive it.

Transferal of energy – A car runs on heat energy mainly but it enhances this by using electricity to provide us with better control, air-conditioning, safety mechanisms. Enhancement of physical energy by electricity. This could represent that we enhance our movement with electricity. Energy is indestructible it just changes form. Inside of a car that is constantly happening as you drive. So the sequence could represent driving.

Meticulous design – The cleverness and ingenuity of the design was very important to the advert makers too they spent about 4 and a half months in studios trying to make a working, intelligent, beautiful design out of the parts of a car.

All done in two takes – This is so that the advert is seamless and the catchphrase is “isn’t it nice when things just work”. So they wanted the advert to be one perfect sequence.

Finely constructed car parts – These were handmade parts. But you would think that they were machine made because there are no humans in the advert. I think the reason for that is because of the myth that machines cant make mistakes.

Rolling motion of many of the movements – Rolling wheels represent driving in our minds so the advert starts with rolling cogs. It symbolizes driving this car will give you smooth efficient movement. With no wasted energy

Speakers – Showing that the car has a great sound-system.

The m usic – is lively and fun, its kind of like saying TA DA! Just before raising the curtain to announce the car

The only human thing about the advert is the voice at the end which introduces the car which rolls down the ramp. This is the introduction of the fully constructed car to the target audience and is trying to convey above all other things – Reliability, quality and that its r eady to drive.

It rolls down the ramp at the end just like the car saying – “I’m ready to go get in.”  – They’re trying to entice people into taking it for a test-drive to buy the car.

Isn’t it nice when things just work – They are conveying that Honda has been making cars for generations and that they make the most reliable cars in the World.

Background: Clean White walls and smooth wooden floor panelling – These are meant to be very plain so that we are not distracted from the motion and that we focus on the main theme of the ad. But it could represent cleanness and simplicity.

Mouse Trap another influence on Honda Cog?

28 Nov
The original 1963 commercial for the Mouse Trap Game[6]

Mouse Trap (originally titled Mouse Trap Game) is a board game first published by Ideal in 1963 for two or more players. Over the course of the game, players at first cooperate to build a working Rube Goldberg-like mouse trap. But once the mouse trap is finished, the object is to then use the machine to trap all of one’s opponent’s mouse-shaped game pieces”[7]

Ben Walker copywriter for Wieden+Kennedy stated it was clearly in their minds when they were creating the advert. I think this is simply because somebody in the room had played it when they were little and the game relies on setting off a chain reaction to achieve a very simple task. Which is essentially what the Honda Cog is doing. So I think it was nothing more than an inspiration that started the chain reaction of the creative process that created the Honda Cog. Which has influences from so many other Rube Goldberg Machine designs, but maybe Mouse Trap was the push that started the Cog idea moving.

I watched a couple videos about it and apparently most children didn’t like the game itself but had fun just setting up and playing with the Rube Goldberg Machine and making it work. Apart from the mini Rube Goldberg machine its pretty similar to most other dice based board games like Monopoly.

Who is the voiceover artist in The Cog?

28 Nov


The narrator for the Honda Cog was none other than Garrison Keillor. Who is an American author, storyteller, humourist and radio personality. He hosts a few radio shows but more importantly he has been called upon by Honda to narrate their adds. He does have a very distinctive voice. Kind of like David Attenborough . That people can recognise and say “I know that voice he was in one of Honda’s Ads. Still most people don’t know him by name. He was chosen probably because his voice is clear, deep, distinctive, resonant kind of growl. He was not only in Cog but also in Honda’s Grr ad and you may hear his voice in the next World Cup saying “Come on, England, keep the dream alive.” If Honda continues to use him this will help to solidify their brand identity and his voice will be no longer linked to him but to Honda when heard by the public. This is a strategy employed to give adverts a personality.

Considering the complete lack of humans in the ad this is quite interesting. His words in the Cog were “Isn’t it nice when things just work?” which kind of sounds like some of his other quotes but I’m sure was given to him by the creators of the ad. The phrase is meant to give the viewers human reassurance of the quality and reliability of the Honda Accord. People often like it when there is that human touch in a product. Handmade products are often higher in value than their mass produced substitutes. Without this simple statement the advert would be incomplete and a bit empty and hollow it gives it that feel that yes it was made by humans and it will work. Quite a nice touch to the ad.

I found a few quotes from him that are quite funny and meaningful at the same time:

“Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.”[8]

“A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded pistol on your coffee table – There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to stop thinking about it.”[8]

“Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye, and deny it.”[8]

All quotes of Garrison Keillor