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Case Studies


Honda Civic Virtual Test Drive launch

Honda Civic Virtual Test Drive launch

Naked Communications case study


Our story begins in January 2004.  Honda brief us on their biggest model launch for seven years: the new Civic, which will arrive in early 2006.

The car will be radically different from any previous model and is targeting a younger male consumer in his early thirties.

Gulp, early thirties!  The average age of somebody who bought the current Civic was over 60.

Looking at the early images of the car we knew that we had something special, but the Honda Civic badge carried a whole lot of negative baggage for this audience.

To take these traditionally “Honda rejectors,” to get this audience across the threshold of a dealership to take a test drive would be a huge mountain to climb.


Then we remembered: Honda is the brand that always asks “What if?”  It’s the brand that challenges convention.

So, if our 30-year-old men won’t take a test drive in a dealership, what if we let them take a test drive anywhere?

What if they could take a test drive at any time of the day?

What if they could take a test drive at a touch of a button?

What if Honda made the first ever virtual test drive?

And a virtual test drive is what we ended up creating.


We approached game developers Codemasters with a proposal to use their TOCA 3 property, the most realistic racing game in the market with an average purchase age of 28.

Working directly with the programmers, we created the ‘Honda Championship’: a standalone virtual test drive game allowing users to drive seven Honda vehicles with new Civic as the top level of the game.

Over the next 18 months there followed a painstaking production process where each car was modelled in the studio, animated, and test driven to perfection.

This is how it happened

In November 2005, before anybody in the UK could set foot in a new Civic, we seeded the game online and 250,000 people downloaded the 100MB file and took a test drive.  News of the Civic travelled like wildfire across the blogosphere two months before launch.

In the same week as the cars became available, 200,000 copies of the virtual test drive were tipped on the cover of Top Gear magazine.  50,000 copies of PC, Xbox and PlayStation game formats were handed out by the dealers to prospects in their local areas.

Codemasters coordinated their retail launch of TOCA 3 the same time as the Civic launch, putting another 700,000 copies of the virtual test drive in the hands of consumers.

The final page of this epic story is that 1.2m people received a virtual test drive for the new Civic for less than the cost of a single airing of an epic Honda TV commercial in Coronation Street. 


In a year, Honda normally take prospective customers on 60,000 test drives through their dealerships.  Within six months from the Civic launch, the virtual test drive reached over a million.

The new Civic has now risen to number three in its key class, above Golf and its market share has risen by a massive 25 per cent.

Naked’s role in this idea was total from inception to fruition, creative direction to communications strategy.

As a twist in the plot, a data capture mechanic which we inserted into the test drive delivered 30,000 prospects, making it the most cost effective data capture campaign Honda has ever run.

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