See how Acura is using anime to appeal to younger generations

The characters’ personalities and backstories will also be fleshed out over social media, according to Nicole Neopolitan, VP group account director of MullenLowe Los Angeles, the agency behind the anime campaign.

The ads come as anime has become increasingly familiar in American television and in advertising. Toyota earlier this month released a campaign for its 2022 GR86 sports car that included the Japanese anime “Initial D.,” a street racing manga series created in the 1990s. Last summer, Taco Bell released an anime-inspired ad for its nacho fries.

Acura framed its campaign as not jumping on the anime bandwagon but instead returning to the brand’s Japanese roots—it is owned by Japanese conglomerate Honda.

According to MullenLowe Creative Director Ty Hayward, the Acura campaign prioritizes doing justice to traditional anime, including using manga-style OOH ads and focusing on building up the story and characters.

The brand and agency wanted to ensure that the episodes weren’t just “car-car-car,” said Hayward. “We wanted to make sure we were telling a story.” Western elements are also woven into the anime, including the Long Beach setting where the brand sponsors a Grand Prix race in real life.

The campaign comes after Acura saw revenue fall in late 2021 as a result of supply chain shortages, with sales dropping 2.8% to 38,555 vehicles in the third quarter, according to data from Automotive News. The luxury car industry that the brand is part of also suffered from pandemic-related drops in sales.

Acura declined to specify the media buy for the Chiaki campaign. However, the campaign is its main focus for the start of the year, said Ikeda.

Subscribe to Ad Age now for the latest industry news and analysis.