Honda Launches YouTube Channel Because, Honestly, Red Bull

/ Jun 12, 2014

Honda Stage

Brands are getting serious about the opportunity in online video, where — as any panel on branded entertainment would inevitably tell you — brands can be creators, too.

Red Bull is the shining example of branded entertainment done right. Citing the energy-drink brand’s success on the web, Pepsi recently announced it’s intention to be more active in online video with the launch of an in-house content studio called The Creators League.

The latest to join this party is Honda, which is launching Honda Stage, a new YouTube channel devoted to bringing music content from an array of sources directly to viewers.

The channel is part of a broader strategy at Honda to move dollars it was originally devoting to cable advertising to digital and live platforms in an effort to better reach millennials. “Just running ads on cable TV and various places isn’t working the way it used to,” American Honda assistant VP of advertising and marketing Tom Peyton says to Billboard, explaining how the biggest screen in the house is increasingly less important for those in their late 20s.

So Honda is going all-in with Honda Stage. The company has partnered with Clear Channel (iHeartRadio), Live Nation, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs’ Revolt TV, and Vevo, which will produce and distribute live and exclusive Honda Stage-branded music content for the channel.

For instance, concerts produced by Clear Channel and Live Nation will feature Honda Stage-branded performances. Honda’s deal with Revolt will result in the creation of a Honda Stage at the network’s studios in Los Angeles.

It’s clear that Honda is making a serious bet with Honda Stage. The budget is in the “millions and millions,” according to Peyton from an earlier interview. (Honda’s US cable ad budget for 2013 was measured at more than $53 million, per Kantar.) The company hopes to generate more than 100 million views for Honda Stage in a year’s time.

If the channel proves to be successful — and considering the incredible popularity of music content on YouTube, it likely will — should that worry the cable guys? Probably; not every brand has the spending power of American Honda, but if more giant advertisers succeed by striking out on their own on digital, then it certainly paves the way for others to follow. Pepsi and Honda already are. Just ask them about Red Bull.

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