The OtheR side is a narrative accomplishment for car commercials. Often car commercials are often sleek cars driving on long winding roads with a suspicious lack of exits or set in weird anthropomorphic apocalypses. Flashy but derivative. Which is why Honda’s commercial for it’s Civic model/Civic Type R Concept cars, (created by Creative Agency, Weiden+Kennedy London) is so amazing. Amazing for it’s feature: when pressing and holding “R” on your keyboard, the video switches another video.
You can watch the full experience here. (Please do, I’ll wait).
Finished it? Great isn’t it, so no guilt if I spoil it for you. But the OtheR side isn’t just great for it’s fantastic narrative but in it’s powerful use of interactive storytelling but highlights one of storytelling trope: the Double Life for the driver/the foil for the Civics. (while I be abusing the slash? hell yes).
A car commercial needs a car; otherwise it would just be a well-dressed man hitchhiking along a road. Notwithstanding the finer technicalities of the two cars Honda is promoting, at least there is a difference in car colour (which is further heightened by the daytime/nighttime. However the commercial does a great job focusing on the smaller features from the volume control to a Econ button, it provides a great contrast, or foil between the two cars and the different purposes they function for.
The second element of great car narratives is that it is the ultimate car narrative. Taking passengers on a journey from point A to point B. Where is the car taking the driver and his kids/thieves? A safehouse? A museum? The anticipation of the journey’s end is what engages visitors and has us watching to the end.
The Double Life
The commercial also plays into two common narratives of the car commercials. The first narrative is ideal joe just going on with his ideal life, driving his ideal daughters, from school with his ideal car. The second narrative is the more actionable sequence of exciting joe doing something exciting which needs his exciting car to be exciting. However by combining these two familiar narratives together the happy father/getaway driver now becomes a multi-dimensional character, invoking the Double Life trope.
Now with the same character, one playing a longer hair version of Ryan Reynolds from “Drive” and as a dotting dad, it’s only natural to ask, do his kids know their daddy is moonlighting as a getaway driver? And where is he taking them? Playing the two narratives together only makes us engage with the driver and identify with him/want his car(s).
Any director worth their salt could have directed this commercial, with scenes cutting back between the two stories for dramatic effect. However, by giving the control of direction to the viewer, they now won’t just watch it, but are more engaged in the experience, switching back between stories whenever they are bored, or to marvel at the contrast between the two stories.
And the contrast is marvellous, not just with the camera shots (an achievement that deserves applause in itself) such as the double twists of the police set-up or the costumed party. The Egyptian motif was a interesting one (maybe it’s a tie to the Double Crown of ancient Egypt that unified the upper and lower kingdoms together. I don’t know.) The contrasts only plays up the credibility of a proper narrative rather than just another car commercial.
Whether it’s catching museum thieves or surprising your daughters with a Egyptian-themed surprise party it’s all enjoying the new Honda. It’s about pulling the contrasting experience that the customer can imagine them being Honda is able to deliver. The ending of the exchange of cars tied up the ending like a birthday present’s bowtie. Which act did the father do first? It doesn’t matter, the car looks fantastic either way.