Section 4 - Case Studies
Tecate Campaign
Paragon Cable
House Foods

Lincoln Mercury
El Pollo Loco
La Opinion
Dinero Seguro
Harris Bank


American Honda: Capturing & Retaining the Leadership Position

In 1989 American Honda made a commitment to develop a program to market automobiles to the US Hispanic market. The first step was to conduct a nationwide search for a Hispanic agency. Later that year, Honda picked La Agencia de Orci in Los Angeles.

Honda’s first challenge to La Agencia was to "earn the right to sell to Hispanics." Consequently, we spent the first several months in research and developing programs that would introduce Honda to the Hispanic market in a meaningful and long-term way.

The 1989 Hispanic Honda owner was not a typical Hispanic. Before having a Hispanic program in place, Honda had been missing the bulk of the Hispanic new car buyers, as evidenced in the profiles below.

1989 Honda Hispanic Owner

  • Born in the U.S.
  • Bilingual
  • Avg. Household Income: $43,000
  • Single
  • <2 Children
  • Professional
  • College, Some Post-Grad

1989 Hispanic New Car Buyer

  • Born Outside U.S.
  • Spanish Dominant
  • Avg. Household Income: $32,000
  • Married
  • 2+ Children
  • Nonprofessionals
  • High School, Some College

Honda’s Hispanic research also identified problems and opportunities.









The Problems
There was low awareness of Honda. Though slowly gaining acceptance, imports were still perceived as undesirable. Hispanic consumers thought of them as:

Not elegant
Expensive to repair
Basically inappropriate for the Hispanic family

The Opportunity
Hispanics who actually owned Hondas loved them, and saw them as:

Ideal for Hispanic families

Research further confirmed that Hispanics wanted to be invited to buy... and to see themselves reflected in the advertising. Additionally, Hispanics wanted to see ads for the models they hoped to own: the top of the line models, with all the features, the luxury and elegance they aspired to.

To implement a dedicated program designed to:

Earn the right to sell to Hispanics
Build a long-term relationship with the consumer
Increase sales to Hispanics
Provide sales growth opportunities for local dealers

We designed a 4-point strategy to build a long-term relationship with Hispanic consumers, as detailed below:

  1. Cultural Enrichment
  2. Community Support
  3. Sports & Entertainment
  4. Product Advertising

1. Cultural Enrichment
To celebrate the cultural gems that Latin America has contributed to this country, Honda became the founding sponsor of the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico’s U.S. Tour. Since 1989, the annual 20-city tour has been deepening Honda’s relationship to the Hispanic community.



Support includes:

TV ads in the top Hispanic markets
Radio/TV promotions and giveaways
Signage at the venue
Program ad
Print ads
Community Support

2. Community Support
To demonstrate its interest in and support of issues important to the Hispanic community.

It was feared the Hispanic community would not fully participate in the Census, resulting in a significant population undercount. Participation was essential to get a fair share of federal support in the form of schools, hospitals, recreational facilities, and representation. With this in mind MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) came to Honda for support. Honda then set out to explain the benefits to Latinos of their being counted in the 1990 Census.











As a result, Honda was recognized as a major contributor in generating the highest level of Hispanic participation in the 1990 census, which led to increased representation of Hispanics in local and national government.

3. Sports and Entertainment Sponsorships
In order to win the hearts of Hispanic consumers, Honda began by supporting their favorite sports and entertainment. And by utilizing first-rate media vehicles, Honda strengthened its quality image.

Sponsoring major soccer events demonstrated Honda’s knowledge of the consumer, and helped to deepen its rapport with the Hispanic community.

Also, innovative soccer crawls developed for Honda’s sponsorship of the 1990 World Cup had great appeal for the target audience, and have changed the way the advertising industry now approaches crawl advertising.

World Cup Soccer Sponsor

    Italia 1990
    United States 1994
    France 1998

Honda Player of the Year Award

    Created in 1991, the Honda Award has become the most coveted award in U.S. professional soccer.

Major League Soccer

1996-1999 exclusive automotive sponsor

Sponsor of San Jose Clash team






From 1990 to 1999, Honda reached 1.1 million Hispanic homes each week through Sábado Gigante, the longest-running and highest-rated weekly show on Spanish-language television.

National sponsorship of Sábado Gigante since 1990
TV advertising
Product integration
Weekly opportunity to win a new Honda
A visible forum to support Honda’s community involvement activities.

4. Product Advertising Product advertising began in 1990, a full year after initiating activities on the strategic points described above. The advertising was designed to appeal to specific Hispanic needs, and to establish a relevant and aspirational image for each Honda model.

Over the years, we have added models to the Hispanic lineup, and have refined product positioning for each model to enhance their appeal to specific target segments. In 1999, they are as follows:

Civic Coupe

Target: Up & coming young Hispanics
Positioning: "The perfect car for all your adventures."

Civic Sedan

Target: Young Hispanic families
Positioning: "Excitement and styling in a family sedan."

Accord Sedan

Target: Mature, more affluent adults
Positioning: "Rewards your success and accomplishments."

Odyssey Mini-Van

Target: Established Hispanic families with 2+ kids
Positioning: "A pleasurable family experience."

















The results of our Hispanic program are enviable. Not only is Honda the number one selling passenger car brand, the Civic and the Accord are the top two selling car models in the Hispanic market, according to R.L. Polk. In fact, in 1990, the Accord reached the #1 position in sales to Hispanics after only one year of product advertising.

Honda has had the #1 and #2 selling models 8 years in a row!

  89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98
Accord # 5 # 1 # 1 # 1 # 2 # 2 # 2 # 2 # 2 # 1
Civic # 4 # 2 # 2 # 2 # 1 # 1 # 1 # 1 # 1 # 2

Further, our research tells us that in addition to being a sales success, we have built and nurtured a solid brand with a loyal consumer franchise.








© 2002 Isabel Valdés - To contact the author, email: or call (650) 322-1922
To order these books contact or call (888) 787-8100