Honda Getting Back in the Game to Launch New Ridgeline Pickup

Reborn truck to be unveiled in Detroit, with Super Bowl 50 to kick off marketing efforts.

by on Dec.18, 2015

Honda will launch its marketing campaign for the 2017 Ridgeline with a costly Super Bowl 50 spot.

Honda is hoping to score a touchdown as it returns to the crowded line-up of advertisers planning to participate in Super Bowl 50, its spot focusing on the launch of the revived Honda Ridgeline pickup.

The second-generation Ridgeline will make its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show on January 11th, landing at a seemingly perfect time for the Japanese maker. Truck sales, in general, dominated the sales charts in 2015, and after years of decline, demand for mid-size models has shown a sudden resurgence.

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Buying a 60-second spot won’t come cheap, with an estimated price of $4 million or more, according to ad industry insiders. But Honda division chief Jeff Conrad insists it will be worth it. “The big game is the largest and most coveted stage to show the world that Honda is back in a big way with an all-new Ridgeline truck,” he said.

Though final details won’t be revealed until the Detroit introduction next month, Honda is expected to retain the original Ridgeline’s car-like unibody design. But from teaser images it has shown, the new model will be far more truck-like in appearance. It’s like-traditional styling was considered one of the key reasons why the original Honda Ridgeline fumbled the ball.

The new 2017 Honda Ridgeline is expected to adopt a more traditional truck design.

“We’ve listened and learned,” Conrad said during an appearance at a media event in Detroit on Thursday.

(Honda Civic, Pilot among finalists for North American Car & Truck/Utility of the Year finalists. Click Here for more.)

The 60-spot spot for the 2017 Honda Ridgeline marks the brand’s first appearance in the annual football-and-commercials fest since 2014.

“We want to tell the world we’re here, and to stand up and be counted,” said Conrad.

The original Ridgeline was one of the rare flops Honda has had in the truck/utility market in recent years. If anything, it has been struggling to keep up with demand for some of its other models, such as the recently redesigned Honda Pilot and compact HR-V. The brand’s light truck sales, overall, are up 11.8% through the end of November, and are on track to beat the brand’s previous best. It sold 602,123 in 2006.

(Honda has more plans for its Clarity platform beyond the new hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. Click Here to see what else is coming.)

The new Honda Ridgeline was designed and engineered in the U.S. and will be produced at the maker’s assembly plant in Lincoln, Alabama.

Honda is hoping to ride a growing wave of demand for compact pickups. Such models once outsold full-size trucks, but sales steadily declined in recent decades. Volume has begun to pick up, in part due to the launch of newer, more modern products.

The original Honda Ridgeline.

Mixing metaphors, Chevrolet and GMC have scored home runs with their new Colorado and Canyon models, while Toyota is firming up its segment lead with the newly redesigned Tacoma. Nissan, meanwhile, is getting set to re-launch its Frontier model. And Ford has confirmed it will also make a return to the midsize truck segment with a U.S. version of its Ranger pickup.

With the kickoff it expects from the Super Bowl campaign Honda hopes to carve out its own niche with the 2017 Ridgeline by blending the best attributes of a truck with the more nimble and fuel-efficient characteristics of a car.

(November truck sales set an all-time record. Click Here for the story.)

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