Honda diesel engines say Grrr

Honda introduced their i-CTDi diesel car engine in 2004 with what became a multi-award-winning television commercial known as “Grrr” and “Hate/Change”. We open up on an animated scene – tropical flowers, green manicured meadows, crystal clear lakes and mountains lit by sun rays. The hedges are trimmed with the letters, H, A, T and E. We soon see why the environment has developed this ‘hate’. Noisy, smoky diesel engines zoom through the environment, hassling the wildlife. The rainbow gives one of the engines the flick. White bunny rabbits take on ear muffs before shooting arrows at an engine. And hey – something changes. The engine is now clean, noiseless and friendly to the environment.

Goats lock horns with dirty diesel engine

Click on the image below to play the video in YouTube

The concept for the ad comes from the Honda lead engineer being asked to design a diesel engine. Kenichi Nagahiro had long resisted the idea, on the grounds that diesel engines were smelly and noisy, bad for the environment. But his hate for the diesel engine led to the development of a new engine much kinder on the eyes, ears and nose, not to mention the animals. The engine was fitted in the new Accord and introduced to the UK in early 2004.

Lyrics for Hate Something Change Something

Garrison KeillorThe lyrics for the Honda Diesel Hate ad are sung by Garrison Keillor, American author and voice artist, along with Wieden + Kennedy writers and whistlers Michael Russoff, Sean Thompson and Richard Russell, under the band name “Be Nice to the Pigeons”.

Here’s a little song for anyone who’s ever hated…
in the key of Grr

Can hate be good?
Can hate be great?
Can hate be good?
Can hate be great?
Can hate be something we don’t hate?

We’d like to know
why it is so
that certain diesels must be slow
and thwack and thrum
and pong and hum
can clatter clat
Hate something
Change something
Hate something change something
Make something better

Oh isn’t it just bliss
when a diesel goes just like this?

Sing it like you hate it…
Hate something
Change something
Hate something
Change something
Make something better

Honda Diesel and Wildlife

The ad features creatures associated with environmental protection, innocence and joy… butterflies, swans, peacock, deer, humming birds, frog, chickens, bunnies, seahorses, turtles, goats, penguins, pink flamingos, robin, dolphins, seals and a ladybird.

The campaign also came out with an online flash-based game featuring a rabbit that visits nine environments, eats carrots, and changes shoddy technology into environmentally friendly features.


The Grrr campaign was developed at Wieden+Kennedy London by creative directors Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth, copywriters/art directors Sean Thompson, Richard Russell and Michael Russoff, agency producers Charlie Tinson and Rob Steiner, group account director Jonathan Campbell, account director Francesca Sellers and account manager Matt Berry.

Filming and animation was done by Nexus Productions, with directors and editors Smith & Foulkes (Adam Foulkes & Alan Smith), producers Chris O’Reilly, Charlotte Bavasso and Julie Parfitt.

Sound was designed at Wave Studios by Johnny Burn.

Music was produced at Amber Music by John Waddell and Will Parnell. The song, “Be Nice to the Pigeons” was composed by W+K creative Michael Russoff as he wandered around the agency with a guitar. In fact he presented it to Honda with his guitar!

Public Responses

Ann Cooper interviews Michael Russoff in The One Club:

“Grrr” had a great response when it broke. Before long, people were whistling it in the street. Most memorably, there was a call from someone who ran a drug rehabilitation clinic. She loved the philosophy of “Hate Something, Change Something,” and felt it could inspire the group of drug addicts she was working with. Many people think advertising is shallow because there are so many shallow ads out there. “Grrr” says you can be thoughtful without being worthy. You can say something interesting and be entertaining about it. If people are going to give you a big budget to go and make something, you should be doing something useful with that. You have an opportunity to change the way people think about something.”

The tv advert has been voted the best commercial at Epica (d’Or) 2004, British Television Advertising Awards (BTAA), Advertising Creative Circle Award, International Andy Awards, D&AD Awards, Golden Award of Montreux, The One Show, CLIO Awards, Cannes Lions, Cresta Awards, to mention a few!

See Wieden + Kennedy’s pdf presentation on the making of the ad.

  • Roger Pearson

    Is there any influence from Bud Luckey, who wrote the original tune along with the short film, Bounding. The tune and voice are so like him that there must be some sort of connection???!!

  • Ian Jackson

    Very clever and extremely catchy tune, with an excellent video. In my head costantly,so it must be working right.

  • katzenfinch

    Remarkably similar lyrics may be found at