Back to the Future

Preview image of “Back to the Future”
  • DJs vie for viewers’ favour in the virtual Honda cockpit
  • Source: HondaDreamLab

Honda is breaking new ground by addressing target groups on Twitch.

Acting has always been a tough industry, but securing gigs as a voice actor could get harder, as AI services DJane Tsunami presents a music battle about cybersurfing in a TV studio that looks like something out of a 1980s science fiction film, with a large blue screen with 16-bit style animations. The host of the show is SOSUPERSAM, a successful musician herself, who warms up the audience and moderates the online chat displayed onscreen. No, this isn’t a scene from the first Blade Runner film, it’s the new Honda DreamLab channel on Twitch.

For those readers not familiar with the video game scene, Twitch is a live streaming video portal that can be used to broadcast video games while chatting to viewers. The video platform has been growing since its creation in 2011. It is now part of the Amazon Group and media records show that it had 26.5 million active users daily in 2021. Among the users are stars such as Ninja and Tfue, who have well over 10 million followers and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year courtesy of their reach. Millennials and Gen-Zs make up the majority of the audience, and represent 73 per cent of viewers (2021, Statista).

It is likely that this is the target group Honda had in mind when the group’s automotive division introduced Twitch Channel by Honda DreamLab to the public in spring. Interestingly, Honda is breaking away from both gaming and mobility content and presents the channel as a forward-thinking lifestyle magazine. To use Honda’s own words: “as a testing ground for the next generation of ideas.” SOSUPERSAM and similar heavyweights invite guests to play music, share their DIY talents, or pop culture knowledge in a variety of shows. During the shows, Honda branding is low-key, with graphic elements in the frame, and sports seats and a steering wheel as studio equipment.

Honda had already included the gaming portal in its media strategy in November 2020, when it launched the 11th-generation Civic Prototype with the Head2Head campaign. Expectations are high for the first Twitch Channel, and their press release states: “We want to connect with a broader audience of new, young car buyers.” The channel has so far failed to attract huge numbers of viewers; Honda recorded 6,181 followers on their channel at the time of going to press, after 6 episodes had been streamed.