Advertising for cars has changed quite a bit over the history of the automobile. We’re bombarded with ads today that we’re eager to ignore, but a Honda commercial from 20 years ago reminds us that some ads transcend trying to sell you something and deserve recognition for their artistry. A new video explores how the ad was made and the behind-the-scenes DVD that was available.

The Honda Cog commercial from 2003 made a serious splash when it first aired, only playing in its entirety just 10 times. It also only aired in three markets – the UK, Sweden, and Australia. The internet has made it widely available to view, but if you missed the ad in 2003 in the UK, you likely never knew the commercial had its own short, behind-the-scenes  making-of documentary.

Viewers in the UK with Sky’s interactive remote who saw the 30-second cut of the ad could opt to see the full version and even request a DVD about the then-new seventh-generation Honda Accord that the commercial was highlighting. More than 10,000 people apparently signed up to receive the brochure and DVD.

The commercial took seven months to complete, with four of those dedicated to developing and testing the setup. Simple variations like temperature or wind caused problems during filming, as did the location. The ad was too long to shoot in one complete take, so there is one secret cut. It was stitched together in post-production. 

Everything else you see happened on-camera without the use of any CGI, including the magical wheels. They rolled up the ramp with the help of extra weights added to the top, making them appear to defy gravity. Even the walking windshield wipers were real.

Wieden & Kennedy, the agency behind Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, produced the ad. It pitched Honda the idea in 2002, receiving one million pounds ($2.6 million in today’s money and exchange rate) to complete it. After the ad aired in 2003, Honda’s UK website saw its best traffic day ever. When was the last time a car commercial had you requesting DVDs and visiting websites?

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