Honda Choir Makes Civic Noise

Honda and Wieden+Kennedy have followed up the success of the ‘Cog‘, ‘Grrr‘ and ‘Impossible Dream‘ advertisements with ‘Choir’, a two minute choral rendition of the Honda driving experience.

Honda Choir Website Image

The spot begins with conductor and composer Steve Sidwell, preparing a choir of 60 in a multi-storey carpark. This is what Honda feels like. As a finger pushes the red “Engine Start” button, the choir ignites with sound, humming with acceleration. The sound of the tyres on the sealed chip surface is provided entirely by men and women tapping their teeth. Next shot we see the car driving through fog. The choir provides the appropriate doppler effect, complete with swiiiiiiiiisssssssh. The choir accelerates the Honda through a tunnel. Now we’re out in the open air. The motorized sun roof slides open. A dog pokes his head out through the back window for some bracing fresh air. The choir provides the cues for the Honda’s reversing down a narrow city alley after encountering a rubbish truck. The driver’s electric window winds up and closes, locking out the sounds of wind in the trees. We have silence as the camera pans around the snow covered Honda. The choir’s mouth effects alert us to the fall of rain. Windscreen wipers dance with a hint of suction. Hot air from the fan demists the windscreen. Now we’re back on the road again – with subtle changes in the choral timbre alerting us to the changes in the bitumen. In the carpark one woman provides the squeal for the tyres as a pencil scuttles across the dashboard. A disc is inserted into the CD player with a whizz. The beat begins – something like the music from the Cog commercial. The car’s driving on a night road, hitting all of the cats eyes in the middle of the road. Back in the daytime we zoom past motorway traffic. The brakes slam. We cross a country bridge. We accelerate past another car, a block of flats, and orange cones, hair flying in the air. We sample a car wash. We’re heading past a low-lying sun shining through trees. Our hand feels the wind outside the car. Water splashes on to the pavement. Now we see the Honda Civic heading down the motorway into the sunset. The choir has done its job with passion and pleasure.

Click on the image below to play the Honda Choir video.

Honda Choir Online

The full advertisment was released on British televisions on Friday January 13 and will run for a week before being shown as 60 second and 40 second edited versions. However the 120 second TV ad has been made available as a videocast designed for the latest versions of iTunes to be played at home and in the office on computers or video iPods. The Honda Civic Choir experience is available on the UK microsite,

“When was the last time you felt a connection with your car? At Honda we want driving to be fun, exciting and involving. So we bult the new Civic. A car that might change the way you feel about driving.” The site is Flash based and gives the options of watching the Civic, exploring the car itself – through an expandable 3D model of the car, or going for a test drive (book a convenient time).

Under the Watch option the default is to view the Flash version of the 2 minute ad. In addition you can watch the rehearsal in three parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). The creatives, director, choir director Jenny O’Grady, director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet and composer/conductor Steve Sidwell give their background to the documentary directed by James Rogan from Park Village.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. Honda offer the TV commercial and the Rehearsal documentary for download as zipped M4V files, designed for use in the latest version of iTunes and Quicktime 7. The TVC is 9.4 mb and the rehearsal file is 3.62 mb. I’ve had trouble getting the rehearsal file to work properly – it freezes up after a minute. Logically the rehearsal file should be at least 12 mb, considering that the documentary is over ten minutes long.

Click on the image below to play the video.


The Wieden+Kennedy, London, by creatives Michael Russoff, Matt Gooden and Ben Walker working with agency producer Helen Whiteley.

Filming was shot by director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet via Partizan, Paris, with producer David Stewart and director of photography David Ungaro.

Bardou-Jacquet worked with a crew to film the Honda in Spain and England, as well as filming the choir performance in a multi-story carpark. During the documentary he asks Steve Sidwell to translate his instructions from French.

Steve Sidwell, known for his composition, trumpet playing and brass arrangement, is the composer and music director. He worked with Jenny O’Grady, known for her choir work and conducting in several movies. The choir rehearsal was held in a Catholic primary school. The sound for the ad was recorded in a studio, with the filming of the choir in the car park done for the visual effect.

Editing was done by Bill Smedley at The Quarry. Post production was done at The Mill, London. Sound was produced at Jungle Studios.

Storyboard was drawn by Toby Barnes.

The Rehearsal documentary was directed by James Rogan from Park Village, produced by Freya Noble, photographed by Nina Kellgren, edited by Dagmar Tatarczyk, with sound mixed by Andy Sonido.

The Civic microsite was created by Midas Collective.

Awards Postscript

Honda Civic ‘Choir’ won a Gold Lion in the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June 2006.