Cog (advert)

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Honda cog commercial.jpg
Client: Honda
Product: Honda Accord
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy
Directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
Produced by Fi Kilroe
Release date(s) 2003 (Television)
Running time 120 seconds
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Language English
Followed by Grrr
Official website

Cog was a television advertisement for the Honda Accord, made with minimal CGI and no trick photography. It was created in 2003 by the London office of advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy.


The two-minute advert appears as a single, long camera dolly along a Heath Robinson-esque chain reaction arrangement of parts from the car. It is in fact two one-minute chain-reaction sequences, carefully set up on opposing walls of the studio and stitched together[1], the join being at the moment where the muffler/exhaust box rolls across the floor (this can be seen by watching the floor pattern change). The advert took approximately 20 takes on each of five days of shooting to film[1], and only minimal CGI was used, for lighting highlights and slowing down the motion at one point. The cars featured, one disassembled for the pieces and the other on the trailer, were two of the six hand-built pre-mass production Accords.[2][3]

The sequence starts with a transmission bearing rolling into a synchro hub. This sets off a cascade of movement; windscreen wipers 'walk' across the floor, valves roll down a bonnet and carefully weighted tires roll uphill. The advert ends when the power door locks on a complete Accord are triggered, causing the hatchback to close, tipping the car off a balanced trailer and into a final pose in front of the camera. The voice of US author Garrison Keillor queries "Isn't it nice... when things just... work?", while the song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang plays in the background.

Legal issues

According to Snopes, "in May 2003, filmmakers Peter Fischli and David Weiss threatened legal action against Honda over similarities between the Cog advert and The Way Things Go,[4] a 30-minute film they produced in 1987 involving '100 feet of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos worthy of Rube Goldberg or Alfred Hitchcock.'"[2]

In 2007, Honda UK continued the crafted theme with a new advertisement for their Civic using a choir as Foley artists.

Parodies & tributes

A parody of this advert was recently created by the BBC to promote its coverage of football on BBC Local Radio, by using selected football memorabilia which was donated for free from
several English football teams including: the white line painting machine from Manchester City FC and the 'dug-out' from West Bromwich Albion F.C.
The Turnstile featured in the Ad is an original from the first Wembley Stadium and dates back to the late 1800's. The spoof BBC ad was produced for BBC English Regions.
Another noteworthy point is that the robot football boots which score the final goal at the end of the ad were designed and built by the iconic British engineer and inventor Tim Hunkin.
This spoof version was filmed on a 90 foot custom built set designed to copy the original Honda Ad.
All the items of football memorabilia were donated to the National Football Museum after filming.
The BBC team wrote to Weiden and Kennedy to seek permission to make this spoof and they were happy for the extra publicity it brought to their campaign.

BBC Spoof credits

  • Director: Reg Sanders - Hungry Wolf Films
  • Producer: Tracy Williams - Tracy Island TV
  • Director of Photography: Steve Weiser
  • Designer: Andy Carrol

Other Parodies

Others to parody the popular advert include The Number for 118 118, a UK directory enquiries service.

The advert has been widely acclaimed by Australian Media as an effective marketing tool for the Honda brand - spearheaded by Honda's media agency, ZenithOptimedia Melbourne.

A video of similar concept using various pieces of sports equipment was made by New Zealander, Evan Yates as the winning entry to a competition hosted by local television programme, Sportscafe. Sponsored by Vodafone, the Best Sporting Trick competition prize was a trip to the UK to meet English footballer, David Beckham.

A similar ad for the breakfast cereal Frosties featured a Rube Goldberg machine involving a bowl having cereal and milk poured into from chain reactions set off by other household objects.

  • Director: Antoine Bardou-Jacquet
  • Production Company: Partizan Midi Minuit
  • Agency: Wieden & Kennedy
  • Agency Producer: Rob Steiner
  • Agency Creatives: Matt Gooden & Ben Walker
  • Post Production: The Mill, London
  • Producer: Fi Kilroe
  • Flame Operator: Barnsley
  • Flame Assistant: Dave Birkill
  • Planner: Russell Davies


External links