Making of Honda – Impossible Dream

This week I wanted know more about the ins and outs of one of my all time favourite adverts. I spoke to Wieden + Kennedy’s Tony Davidson about the making of Honda – Impossible Dream. Similar to last weeks post, I’ll discuss everything from client brief to production.


1. What was the brief from Honda?

It was a pretty simple brief really; to make a brand ad that would make people understand and fall in love with Honda.

2. How did you come up with the idea?

Via the truth. We dig into Honda’s history and found some amazing truths – that was our inspiration.

3. How did you sell your idea in the pitch?

We actually presented several different routes, none of which the client originally bought into. However there were certain elements from these, like the Andy Williams song, that we kept. The final ad was combination of several of these ideas.

4. Did you come across many production issues?

Finding the right Director is critical for an ad’s success and Ivan Zacharias proved to be that man. The shoot took place in several locations including Argentina, Japan, Barcelona and New Zealand. Surprisingly, getting all the vehicles to the locations, even the older ones, went remarkably smoothly.

Making of Honda - Impossible Dream

5. How long did filming take?

It seemed like forever, because it was shot in so many different locations. But the bulk of it was over a two week period in New Zealand.

6. What’s the typical crew you use for filming?

It depends on the ad really. On this occasion the crew was chosen by the production company. They picked some of the best experts in their field, including a Japanese bike expert to ride Honda’s classic bikes.

7. What was your best moment from filming?

I think I actually missed the best moment. Chris Groom, one of our Creatives, went to the Motegi Racetrack in Japan and saw the first ever Honda to win an F1, race round the oval track. Later on the track it was overtaken by their modern F1 car; grown men were crying.

Hot air balloon disappearing in the fog was definitely the worst moment. There were power lines near by.

8. What was your worst moment from filming?

Definitely the hot air balloon disappearing into the fog, as there were power lines not too far away.

Our bike rider also took a nasty fall and ended up in a ditch.

9. What was your end goal from the ad?

To make people feel something and to then make them realise why all these moments were important in Honda’s history. We took photos of every vehicle and told their story in a piece of communication that was attached to The Guardian.

10. Was there a key lesson you learnt from this project?

Follow your gut. Simon Thompson, our-then-client signed off both this and Honda ‘Choir’ at the same time. Great work takes a brave client.

11. What was the timescale from brief to production to release?

I’m not sure about exact dates and times now, but on average, projects like this will take around six months, from client brief to launch.

There is also an amazing and really detailed film showing the making of Honda – Impossible Dream. Definitely worth a watch.

What are your thoughts on the making of Honda – Impossible Dream? Is there anything else you’d like to know? Let me know on Twitter or on the comments section below, thanks!