Honda Responds to Customer Tweets with Vine Videos, Unintentional Artwork Expected

In honor of its summer clearance sale, Honda is making Vine videos in response to customer tweets.

The new Vine video service on Twitter takes the site's approach to microblogging and applies it to video form.  By minimizing clips to 6 seconds, without them needing to be a singular recording, Vine allows users to create succinct forms of work which often come across as little non-sequiturs.  The arbitrary video length makes it hard to convey something deep and meaningful, made harder still by the real-time nature of video recording.  Still, the potential for art in Vine videos is plausible and possible, even if unintentional.  In addition, the marketing potential remains untapped, though edgy companies such as Urban Outfitters and Marc Jacobs have taken forays into the new format.

Enter Honda.  The Japanese car company sees the potential of Vine, and is willing to take it towards the ridiculous.  The company announced this morning through its Youtube channel if followers used a specific hashtag, #wantnewcar, and write a reason why they want a new Honda, the company will post Vine videos in response to the tweets.  Twitter followers quickly responded, and Honda has started posting videos of car sales agents doing various acts of silliness to placate their whims.  The intent of these videos is to attract car owners to replace their old vehicles for new Hondas as part of the company's nationwide summer clearance sale.

The company could use the boost:  Like most of the auto industry, Honda has taken a big hit from the lack of ownership from driving-age Millennials, of whom are increasingly eschewing the supposed rite of maturity and turning to alternative methods of transportation (bus, train, bike, rideshares etc.) to get around.  While retirees have kept a stable cushion against this loss, a sharp downturn is expected in the coming years as they likely give up their keys and/or die off.  Honda, like many others in the industry, think the issue has much to do with image and the cost of gas, and have been working hard to deal with that problem through new cars, especially hybrid electric models such as the CR-Z and Insight.  They also hope that, through social media outlets such as Vine, and the ridiculous acts they can create through that, they gain a footing with these car-reluctant youths.  Inadvertently, they may create some works of art.

While ideal a vision this may be, it does not get into the core of the problem that Millennials have with car ownership:  The cost of ownership itself.  To wit, the price of a new Honda Fit, which is the lowest end model of the Honda lineup, is over $15000, not including any additional fees required to purchase the vehicle (title, registration, taxes).  In addition, there is the matter of the cost of insurance, which unlike health insurance (until next year), is mandatory.  Drivers under 25 are arbitrarily given higher insurance rates due to the inherent risk they pose on the road.  Repairs are also an issue.  Even if one were to lease a Fit or an Insight, the cost of owning that car from month to month can be a ridiculous burden on our underemployed youth.  It makes the one time purchase of a bike and helmet for at most $500, or a monthly pass for public transit in the low triple-digits if that, far more appealing.  Honda, for all its clever marketing, does not have a solution to that problem.

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