The making of Honda Hands

This week I have decided to launch a new series on my blog; looking at how certain adverts were made, from pitch, to production and to release. To kick this series off, I’m looking at the making of Honda Hands, by London agency Wieden + Kennedy.

The adverts were made by creative duo, Chris Lapham and Aaron McGurk, who have been at WK for 1 year, having previously between them worked at the liked of Adam&EveDDB, Iris and Rapier. There is no denying the quick success of Honda Hands, so I spoke to Aaron to find out more and discuss the making of Honda Hands.

What was the brief from Honda?

It was pretty open really. Honda had been sponsoring documentaries on Channel 4 for a number of years and wanted a new set of idents to run over the next 10 months. They wanted to say something about the brand and they wanted it to link to the documentaties. That was about it.

The making of Honda Hands


How did you come up with the idea?

We wanted to approach the idea differently. We knew that only Honda make such a broad range of products, so by looking through their rich history we found many stories of innovation, but what was most apparent, was that they all started with the curiosity of somebody at Honda.

This insight lead us to the creative idea – the hands of a Honda engineer taking us on a journey of innovation, from one iconic Honda product to another. This also gave us an interesting approach to making the TV idents. By creating one long film, we could chop it up any way we liked and use the ident slots as a way to just dip in and out of the action. It would then feel as though the hands are constantly driving innovation, whether we are there to see it or not.

We then could see the long film online and tell the stories behind the products we had featured, for those that were curious in finding out more.

“The sell in wasn’t easy. There were various client concerns which we had to overcome and reassure them about.”

How did you go about selling the idea to the client during the pitch?

We put a document together which took them through our thinking process and how we saw it working. We also made a 50 second mood film, which kind of gave a feel of what we were thinking from an execution point of view.

The sell in wasn’t easy and as always, there were various client concerns which we had to overcome and reassure them about.

Did you come across any production issues?

Yeah, there were plenty of obstacles. The main ones being:

1. How do we make this piece of film look real?

2. How can we made the computer generated products fit perfectly into the hands of the engineer?

3. How can we transition from product ‘X’ to product ‘Z’, even though the products are totally different?

Thankfully we had a great team working with us – the Directors Smith & Foulkes from Nexus and Analog who were dealign with all the CG bits. Also on the agency side we had a strong account team who were managing the client and a great producer. Not to mention our Executive Creative Directors, Kim & Tony, who were always on hand for any advice.

Check out this great video from Analog about the making of Honda Hands CG models.

How long did filming take?

The filming of the hands was all done in one (long) day. From shooting the hands to it all being finished, was about three months.

What’s the typical crew you use for filming?

It all depends on the idea really. As standard though, there will be a Director who is a specialist in his/her specific area of film making.

What was your best moment from filming?

Probably the moment we first saw the CG models of all the products. The level of detail in them and the quality of finish were amazing.

“There were definitely a few moments when we thought it was all going to go pear shaped.”

What was your worst moment from filming?

There wasn’t any one point which we would consider to be the worst, but there were moment when it looked like we might have to remove certain products, or not be able to use specific sounds because of usage rights etc… Thankfully, we managed to win those battles, but there were definitely a few moments when we thought it was all going to go pear shaped.

What was your end goal?

To make a piece of film that people would enjoy watching and would remind them of the great things Honda has accomplished over the past 65 years.

We also wanted to make something that lived up to the past great Honda ads.

Is there anything you would change now?

Yeah lots! Every time I see the film I see so much that could have been different, but that’s the same with any project so I’m learning to deal with it.

Was there a key lesson you learnt from this project?

The more you push, the better the work will be.

What are Honda’s post-ad results?

  • Currently over 6.7 million views of the video on Honda’s YouTube channel, with nearly 10,000 new subscribers to Honda’s YouTube channel.
  • Approx 23,838 YouTube shares, 15,000 tweets and 115,000 Facebook shares.
  • 14% uplift in Honda Twitter mentions.
  • 5th highest rated video on Reddit.
  • No.2 in the Campaign Viral Chart.
  • No.1 in The Drum Viral Chart.
  • Campaign – Pick of the Week and Ad of the Day.
  • Adweek – Top 10 Ads of the Week.

What was the timescale from brief to production to release?

We were briefed right at the start of January, just after the Christmas break. We then started looking at Directors around March time, animatics around April and by late June we had released the idents, which were being aired on Channel 4. In July we put the full length film on YouTube.

Check out the finished ad below:

There’s also a really interesting article on FXGuide, which Aaron sent me, about the making of Honda Hands from a production point of view, looking into how the CGI was created.

I hope you enjoyed my post on the making of Honda Hands and found it interesting. If there’s an advert you’d love for me to showcase next pop it in the comments below or give me a shout on Twitter, thanks!

Making of Honda Hands video and images from FXGuide