Old Sheep Learn New Tricks in Honda’s Amusing Super Bowl Commercial

RPA gives the Ridgeline a woolly rendition of a Queen classic

Headshot of Tim Nudd

There's been a somewhat surprising scarcity of animal-themed Super Bowl teasers—and actual spots—this season. (RIP, Budweiser puppy.) But Honda and RPA have rounded up some talented sheep to help change that.

The automaker on Monday released its 2016 Super Bowl spot, advertising the 2017 Honda Ridgeline, coming this spring. And one feature of the truck in particular will have prospective buyers—and barnyard animals everywhere—singing its praises. Quite literally.

See the spot, directed by Hungry Man's Bryan Buckley, here:

Yes, the new Ridgeline, has a truck-bed audio system that uses so-called "exciters" to turn the whole bed into a giant outdoor speaker. Honda is pushing that single feature in the Super Bowl campaign, including the 60-second spot in which sheep belt out Queen's "Somebody to Love," choir style, when the farmer isn't around.

"It's a very unique feature," Honda's avp of marketing, Tom Peyton, told Adweek last week in an interview. "Nobody else has it. And it's a little tough to communicate—although we will in some advertising later this spring, when the truck's at the dealers. It's not actually speakers. It's 'exciters' that makes the whole bed a speaker. It's pretty cool. … It would make a great tailgate vehicle."

That particular Queen song got a nice revival in December, when Jordan Smith performed it on NBC's The Voice in December. But Peyton also deadpanned: "It was the only song the sheep knew."

The humor is broad and cartoony, which Peyton says is just right for the environment. "We aren't the first come out with dogs or horses or puppies [on the Super Bowl]," he says. "But it is the one property where people truly tune in to see the commercials. And this is certainly playing to that type of content they're looking for."

Honda has only sat out a couple of Super Bowls over the past decade, and Peyton says it remains a solid investment if you have something special to sell.

"You only make the trip to the big game if you have a message that is noteworthy," he says. "And we firmly believe our return to the midsize truck market with a new, restyled Ridgeline is a great opportunity to get that message out. And we certainly think an investment in the Super Bowl is worthwhile." 

• For more Super Bowl 50 news, check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker, an up-to-date list of the brands running Super Bowl spots and the agencies involved in creating them.


Client: American Honda Motor Co.

Title: "A New Truck To Love"

Agency: RPA

EVP, CCO: Joe Baratelli  

SVP, ECD: Jason Sperling  

Creative Director/Art: Brent Singer  

Sr. Art Director: Matthew Pullen  

Sr. Art Director: Amy Servidea  

Sr. Copywriter: Chris Bradford  

Sr. Copywriter: Audrey Attal  

SVP, Chief Production Officer: Gary Paticoff  

VP, Executive Producer: Isadora Chesler  

Sr. Producer: Eva Ellis  

VP, Director of Business Affairs: Maria Del Homme  

EVP, Management Account Director: Brett Bender  

VP, Group Account Director: Adam Blankenship  

VP, Management Supervisor: Cathy O'Gorman  

Account Supervisor: Jacob Gentry  

Account Executive: Chris Varela  

Account Executive: Christina Contreras  

SVP, Group Strategic Planning Director: Christian Cocker  

Associate Director, Strategic Planning: Nargis Pirani  

Sr. Strategic Planner: Elissa Murch  

Program Manager: Melissa Heitman  


Production Company: Hungry Man

Director: Bryan Buckley

Executive Producer: Mino Jarjoura

Director of Photography: Scott Henriksen

Producer: Emily Skinner

Production Designer: David Skinner

Costume Designer: Michelle Martini

Editorial: Union Editorial

Editor: Jim Haygood

Managing Partner: Michael Raimondi

Executive Producer: Lisa Johnson

Executive Producer: Joe Ross

Assistant Editor: Drew Johnson

VFX & Design: The Mill

Executive Producer: Leighton Greer

Sr. Producer: Chris Harlowe

Production Coordinator: Mary Hayden & Samantha Hernandez

Shoot Supervisor: Robert Sethi, Felix Urquiza & Glyn Tebbutt

Executive Creative Director: Phil Crowe

Creative Director: Robert Sethi

2D Lead Artist: Glyn Tebbutt

3D Lead Artist: Felix Urquiza

Animation Lead Artist: Blake Guest

Animation Supervisor: Jacob Bergman

2D Artists: Ben Smith, Ashley Forbito, Jake Albers, Jale Parsons, Peter Sidoriak, Sam Evenson, Tommy Smith

3D Artists: Matthew Fuller, Justin Murphy, Philippe Moine, Matthew Kavanagh, Dave Vander Pol, Richard Bailey, Alice Panek Temp, Tracie Cotta, Jason Jansky, Tamara Garabedian, Jenna Kind, Ziye Liu, Katie Yoon, Anthony Thomas, Majid Esmaeili, Sean Comer, Steven Olson, Martin Rivera

Matte Painting: Andy Wheater, Gillian George

Color: The Mill

Executive Producer, Colour: Thatcher Peterson

Colour Producer: Diane Valera

Production Coordinator, Colour: Jackson Rodgers

Colorist: Adam Scott

Music: "Somebody to Love"
Written by Freddie Mercury
(c) 1976 Queen Music LTD.
All Rights controlled by EMI Music Publishing, administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Performed by Queen.
Courtesy of Hollywood Records.

Re-Record & Sound Design: Beacon Street Studios

Executive Producer: Adrea Lavezzoli

Mix: Lime Studios

Re-recording Mixer: Dave Wagg

Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan 

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.