Honda used two of the biggest entertainment events of the year this month to showcase their new marketing campaigns.

They selected the Super Bowl to continue their years-long message for “Power of Dreams” with the TV ad “Yearbooks,” a celebrity-driven spot featuring the likes of Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Missy Elliot, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel and Magic Johnson, among others, to encourage people to chase their dreams as they talked through their static high school portraits.

The underlying idea behind it, which was complemented with the social campaign #PowerofDreams, was that Honda was making a 20-year dream come true with the CR-V.

“This year marked the CR-V’s third appearance in the Super Bowl, and each time the SUV has appeared has been tied to an important milestone, with this year marking the CR-V’s twentieth birthday,” Susie Rossick, Honda’s assistant vice president of marketing, told [a]listdaily. “The Super Bowl provided the largest audience on TV, making it the right platform for introducing the right vehicle—and this year’s campaign was created to entertain fans through the participation of some of the biggest stars from film, television, sports and even comic books while introducing America to the fifth generation CR-V. ‘Yearbooks’ conveys how the CR-V was once the new kid on the block before becoming America’s best-selling SUV—and how all of the stars featured in ‘Yearbooks’ began with a dream and the determination to achieve it.

The “Power of Dreams” messaging carried into the Academy Awards on Sunday in some markets, and it was complemented by their multi-channel marketing campaign, “Always Thinking About Tomorrow,” which focused on taking fuel cell technology mainstream by educating consumers about their new fuel cell car. The campaign was inspired by Honda’s global environmental slogan “Blue Skies for Our Children.”

“The new marketing campaign for the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is the next step in our effort to advance fuel cell vehicles to the mainstream market,” said Steve Center, vice president of the environmental business development office at Honda. “This fully integrated marketing campaign also demonstrates our commitment to growing electrified vehicles into a volume pillar for the Honda brand.”

Alicia Jones, Honda’s head of social media, joined [a]listdaily to share their second-screen strategy and how they are leveraging their channels to connect with consumers.

Which social channels are you most interested in engaging with your audience?

We go where our audiences are—wherever that may be. We have an engaged audience of millions of people across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube and more, and we interact with people in different ways on different platforms. Facebook delivers massive scale, rich targeting capabilities and unique creative formats. Instagram, now plugged into the dominant Facebook ad engine, gives us an opportunity to tell a rich, visual story. Snapchat allows us to drive strong national reach while making our audience active participants in our story through Filters and Lenses. YouTube is a powerful vehicle for driving reach and awareness, and functions as a library of video content that has a much longer shelf life than on other channels. Beyond its ability to scale video content through pre-roll, YouTube is also a massive search engine, and we can capitalize on that long-tail search interest by creating and optimizing niche content that solves problems, answers questions, and gives guidance.

What is the toughest task to marketing cars to millennials?

Millennials are often overgeneralized as an entirely uniform group of people, but there’s an incredible amount of nuance within that demographic. They care about experiences more than possessions, so we need to show how we empower and inspire those experiences. Data shows that millennials are also deeply mistrusting of the normal car-buying process, so our marketing needs to not just appeal to their emotional and rational needs, but needs to provide them with tools that give them the information they need on their terms, in the channels they’re comfortable with. 

How are you using social data to better connect with consumers?

Data is at the core of everything we do in social. We are rigorous in our collection, analysis and application of the insights we pull from literally millions of data points surrounding our social activity. We use data to inform who we’re talking to, which topics we discuss, which platforms we distribute our message, and what format we produce content in. We use data not just to eliminate waste in our marketing—making sure we are connecting with the people most interested and receptive to our messaging—but also to reduce friction in establishing those connections, and uncover hidden opportunities to reach our audience based on their passions. Every campaign is designed around a specific strategic hypothesis—establishing both a reason for being, and a desired outcome. We collect data on the performance of content and media to validate or disprove our hypothesis, and feed that into subsequent content development and media planning.

Has Honda done any influencer marketing in the past to promote marketing and social endeavors? What were the goals? Was it successful?

Honda has been actively involved in influencer marketing in a number of forms over the past several years. We see influencers as a unique tool for connecting with our audiences by having credible, authentically aligned voices tell the brand story in new ways. Utilized properly, influencers can be sources of unique content creation, and efficient organic reach. We’ve utilized influencers for model launches, tapping into people who represent our target audiences, or have audiences composed of people we want to reach. We’ve also used influencers to create content unique to their area of expertise or position in culture—travel, music, comedy, technology—that aligns with the core use cases for our products, or with the passion points of our target audiences. But there’s no question influencers can be misused, too. Simply paying the largest or fastest growing social celebrity to push product for your brand that they don’t have a meaningful alignment with, or tangible connection to, is a waste of money. Beyond the potential cost inefficiencies and supersaturation of branding in the influencer’s content mix, people see through the lack of authenticity, and reject the messaging. Above all else, when partnering with influencers, we look for the proper mix of scale against our target audience, alignment with our core messaging, authenticity of involvement and engagement among their fan base.

What is on top of your marketing “hot list” this year? What emerging trends are you zeroing on in order to explore and innovate the Honda brand?

We’re excited about the potential of immersive content formats like AR, VR and 360-degree video. With the development of smartphone technologies to power the format, and the massive cost reduction in content creation tools, immersive formats present a rich canvas for marketers to tell more compelling, engaging and ‘sticky’ stories to their audiences. As always, we’re excited about the potential for applied data. More data is being generated now than ever before across all channels—and we want to make the capture, analysis and application of that data systemic. The more data we have, and the more effectively we use that data, the better experiences we can provide for our customers. We’re also excited about the power of what we’re calling ‘conversational interfaces.’ Voice interaction has exploded in popularity with Alexa, Siri, Cortana and others taking more prominence in people’s daily lives than ever before. Chat bots fall into this category as well. Whether they’re on Facebook Messenger, Twitter or on our website, the transformative impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning has breathed new life into the potential for brands to add value to people’s lives. As always, we have to think about how to make those experiences not just entertaining, but useful, or they’ll risk becoming novelties.

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan