News & Views

Honda / Sound of Senna

by Contagious Team

Automotive brand recreates sounds of racer's historic drive - plus an app

We can't all get behind the wheel of a racing car and take it for a spin at a moment's notice. But thanks to a new app from Honda, we can close our eyes and pretend we're going 150mph around a circuit track. 

Sound of Honda, developed as part of Honda's dots by internavi lab, taps into a smartphone's GPS and accelerometer to determine how fast the owner is moving. As you speed up, the app revs up, playing the sounds of one of Honda's signature cars in time with your movement. Users can choose between five different Hondas, including the NSX-R, the S800 and the McLaren Honda MP4/5.

To promote the whimsical app, Honda tapped into historical data of one of its most famous drivers, Brazilian Ayrton Senna. During the 1989 F1 Japanese Grand Prix Qualifying, Senna set a record for the world's fastest lap, clocking in at one minute and 38 seconds. Honda looked at the data for Senna's accelerator use, gear position, engine rotation, speed and distance, and then recreated the historic lap as an exhibition it called Ayrton Senna 1989.

Honda's crews set up lights and speakers around Suzuka Circuit, the track where Senna set his record 24 years ago. There, the brand plugged in the data from that race, allowing spectators to watch as a light raced around the circuit in step with Senna's historic race. Speakers around the track echoed the sound of the McLaren MP4/5 engine, quite literally recreating the sound of Honda.

Contagious Insight   

There's definitely a market for recreating engine revs to court racing junkies; Porsche's Cayenne Kilometer radio station campaign - which piped engine sounds through car radios when tuned to a specific frequency - is a recent example. 

Honda's execution is a little more adaptable and fun. The app's ad shows kids riding bikes around town, pretending they're Honda racing cars. And you don't need to even be moving - we swung our phones around in the air and listened to the revs of the McLaren Honda MP4/5. 

The tie-in with Senna' historic race is a nice way to visualise the idea, as well as reinforce Honda's position as one of the world's top racing brands. That said, this app feels pretty gimmicky and it's hard to imagine people using it more than once. A fun concept. With any luck, Honda didn't sink too much money into developing something that, in the end, probably won't move the needle.

Honda Senna

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