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Honda Launches Campaign to Save the American Drive-In

No two things go hand-in-hand quite like a car and a drive-in movie theater — especially in the context of American nostalgia. The shift toward digital film, however, threatens to send the drive-in the way of the dodo. Stepping in to help keep this American icon from utter extinction is automaker Honda.

By the end of 2013, Hollywood is expected to stop distributing 35 millimeter film to all U.S. movie theaters. While most indoor theaters have already made the switch to digital projection — a move that costs roughly $75,000 per screen — hundreds of drive-in theaters will find it difficult to manage such an expenditure, given their limited ticket sales (most drive-ins close during the colder months, after all).

Part of Honda’s goal is to raise community awareness of the perilous situation in which beloved local drive-ins find themselves. The campaign’s website, projectdrivein.com, features a video (below), which visitors are encouraged to share via social media. Supporters are also asked to pledge to see one movie at their local drive-ins.

Demonstrating its commitment to the cause, Honda will also be donating digital projectors to five drive-ins across the country. For the next month, visitors to the website are invited to help decide which five theaters will be given the new digital projectors on Honda’s dime. The winning theaters will be revealed in September, and each will host a celebration that includes a screening of the family-friendly film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.”

The projector donations are being made possible by a crowdsourcing campaign organized by Honda’s longtime agency RPA, and supporters are encouraged to donate to the Honda Project Drive-In Fund to help give out more projectors. Additionally, the automaker is creating pop-up mini-efforts at many of its dealer locations to help spread awareness.

“Cars and drive-in theaters go hand-in-hand, and it’s our mission to save this decades-old slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for so many of us,” said Alicia Jones, manager of Honda & Acura social marketing at American Honda Motor Co. “We’re committed to helping the remaining drive-in theaters flourish with the move to digital projection.”

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