Honda Ridgeline: Not your teenager’s truck

Advertising for the Toyota Tacoma targets the thrill-seeking, life-grabbing YOLO set.

One pickup truck ad features a mild-mannered rancher hauling sheep and listening to ’70s classic rock. The other has women in bikinis going mudding on four-wheelers.

Which ad do you think is targeting millennials?

When Toyota burst into the midsize pickup space last year with a redesign of its Tacoma, it was backed by marketing that aggressively targeted the thrill-seeking, life-grabbing YOLO set.

A Honda ad aims to pull in middle-aged guys who can afford the Ridgeline.

Honda, on the other hand, used its Super Bowl dollars to set a different tone for its second-generation Ridgeline truck. The ad shows a quiet field where a middle-aged guy is hauling sheep. Queen’s 1976 hit “Somebody to Love” plays on the in-bed speakers.

It’s a campaign that Honda hopes will grab buyers with a little more gray in their hair and green in their wallets than the prototypical Tacoma fan.

“It’s not a youth truck,” Tom Peyton, American Honda Motor Co.’s assistant vice president of marketing and advertising, said about the Ridgeline. “Some market their trucks as a youth alternative; we are not looking for that particular 20-something driver in this truck.”

Instead the brand is looking to pull in the same set of buyers from the first-generation Ridgeline: mostly men in their 40s and 50s — “the guys who have got the money to afford this truck, who want this kind of functionality, who want it as an everyday driver,” Peyton explained.

Honda hasn’t released specific pricing for the 2017 Ridgeline but has said it won’t vary much from the earlier Ridgeline. In 2014 — the final year that model was on sale — the Ridgeline started at $30,405, including shipping, and the average transaction price was $32,447, according to Kelley Blue Book.

“It’s not a youth truck. Some market their trucks as a youth alternative; we are not looking for that particular 20-something driver in this truck.”Tom Peyton,

American Honda Motor Co.

Toyota’s 2016 Tacoma starts lower: $27,895, including shipping, for a base V-6 model, and the pickup had an average transaction price in 2015 of $29,811 (which included both the current generation and its predecessor), according to KBB.

Ads for the Tacoma are a Red Bull- fueled shot right into the psyche of a millennial. They feature explosions, backflips on motocross bikes, snowboarders on banisters, four-wheelers, four-wheelers towing couches, four-wheelers with bikini-clad women riding in back … you get the idea.

Toyota’s long heritage in off-road vehicles has served to “create brand imagery that appeals to a young, male, adventure-seeking target,” Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota Division, said at the press launch of the Tacoma in early August.

These are “guys who can picture themselves racing across the dunes in Baja, heading to the beach to surf or setting up a hunting and fishing camp in the deep woods,” Fay said.

A voiceover on one Tacoma ad drives the message home: “25 years old and you’re still playing in the mud.”

Sheep are nowhere to be found.

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