Click-start: Honda's chain reaction is poetry in motion

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It's art, no question. But will the new Honda Accord commercial do the business as well? (If you haven't seen this one yet, you'll soon feel you have: it's unquestionably the water-cooler ad conversation of the year – the one-where, the bit-where.)

It's art, no question. But will the new Honda Accord commercial do the business as well? (If you haven't seen this one yet, you'll soon feel you have: it's unquestionably the water-cooler ad conversation of the year – the one-where, the bit-where.)

The setting is a gallery – big, white walls, no windows, wood floor, all the conventions of the artspace. And it's a long commercial, two minutes, so it feels almost as long as the clever "shorts" they used to show in arthouse cinemas. And it looks ... just beautiful, in an installation kind of way.

A cog-ish thing rolls across the floor, hits a car wheel, which sets off an incredibly inventive chain of perpetual motion among a range of bits of metal, plastic and rubber. A ball bearing will run across a seesaw bridge and drive a sculptural chunk of metal to spin on its axis and hit a tubular affair, which then provokes a sort of robot crab to pincer itself forward. Some of the objects look familiar (the car wheel, for instance), some look pretty abstract (what was that?) and others again look like classic mid-20th-century art shapes – a touch of the Giacomettis.

Actually, they're all car parts.

There's a real Boy's Own tension to it too, about whether they can keep up this very complex relay. Will the exhaust pipe moving sideways in a painfully slow flipover movement actually make that last quadrant that pushes the wotsit into the dingbat?

And just like those films, there's a clever through-leaves soundtrack of perfect clicks and whirrs.

This is Heath Robinson or Emmett redesigned by Leonardo. Along the way there are several sequences that would make a commercial or an art video – or a directorial career – in themselves. For instance, there's the pseudo-Alexander Calder mobile of car window glass, or the crawling crab made of windscreen-wiper arms.

The whole thing nudges forward to a disembodied dashboard and finally to a steel seesaw with a steely-grey Honda Accord on it, which tips forward and lets the car move across the screen to a blast of updated Isaac Hayes-ish clean funk, while a laconic PJ O'Rourke American voiceover says: "Isn't it nice when things just ...work?"

This is obviously going to win every prize going. It's going to get you, gentle Sindy reader – a nice class of person – talking about it. But will it help move Honda out of the Jap also-ran league into the BMW and Audi shortlist one, the place where people really want your brand and will pay the premium? I think it will. A business clever enough to commission this work will seem more like your kind of person, and a car with so many delicious clicks and whirrs will sound seriously well made.

peter@sru.co.uk

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