News & Views

Honda / Project Drive-In

by Contagious Team

Car brand's movement hopes to save drive-in movie theatres

Honda is launching a campaign to save drive-in movie theatres from extinction. 

US film distributors are expected to stop delivering 35 millimetre reels by the end of 2013, favouring digital projection instead. But the 300 or so drive-in theatres left in the country are unlikely to be able to afford to make the switch to digital, which costs around $75,000 per screen. 

The car brand's Project Drive-In campaign, via RPA, Los Angeles, hopes to prevent as many theatres from being forced to shut down as possible. The effort is centred on the campaign microsite where visitors can vote for five drive-ins to be gifted a digital projector, courtesy of Honda. 

Campaign supporters are encouraged to share the initiative on social media via the #SaveTheDriveIn hashtag and pledge to watch a movie in a drive-in this summer. Honda has also launched a fundraising effort through crowdfunding site Indiegogo, where it set itself a goal of $100,000. 

Sony Pictures has partnered with Honda to create pop-up drive-ins at dealerships across the US and will be screening Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. 

'Cars and drive-in theaters go hand-in-hand, and it's our mission to save this decades-old slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for so many of us,' said Alicia Jones, manager of Honda and Acura Social Marketing at American Honda Motor Co., Inc. 'We're committed to helping the remaining drive-in theatres flourish with the move to digital projection. 

In September, Honda will announce the five winning drive-ins, who will each receive a celebratory screening of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Contagious Insight      

What symbolises America more than baseball, hot dogs and drive-ins? First seen in 1933, drive-ins reached the height of their popularity in the 1950s and 60s, when there were 4,000 across the US. Not only do they evoke the golden age of America, but they are directly related to Honda's business and as such this movement is perfectly on brand for Honda. Associating itself with an American icon is an especially smart strategy for the Japanese auto manufacturer, which is keen to prove its US heritage with patriotic locals. Honda has 14 major manufacturing plants in North America and has been producing cars in the US for more than 30 years, both of which will offer legitimacy to the alignment. 

We've seen countless recent examples of brands attempting to connect with people by creating a movement or lobbying for a cause. Preserving the drive-in is a non-political cause that appeals to the American public's nostalgia. But our editorial team wondered whether Honda will be able to raise much support for cause that, when compared to poverty and disease, feels pretty minor? 

Although almost 100,000 YouTube viewers have watched the campaign video, we'll have to see how much of its $100,000 Indiegogo goal is achieved. So far it has only raised $4,445. But perhaps it doesn't matter how much Honda actually achieves as long as its associates itself with a positive American symbol? Not to mention it has found a smart way of getting people into its dealerships. Who would say no to a free movie screening and popcorn?

This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact