Detroit, Michigan — Honda is launching an unprecedented U.S. ad campaign urging owners to get vehicles that have been recalled for safety problems repaired.
The Japanese automaker will spend several million dollars on ads in 120 newspapers and 30-second radio spots in 110 markets. It's also sponsoring customized Facebook posts that will appear in owners' timelines. The ads — in English and Spanish — will begin running next week.
Honda has recalled more than 5 million cars in the U.S. since 2008 because their air bags that can inflate with too much force, sending shrapnel into the vehicle. Six deaths have been blamed on the defective air bags, which were made by Japanese supplier Takata Corp.
Spokesman Chris Martin said it's the first time Honda has reached out to owners through a media campaign. The ad makes clear that recalls are free, and promises loaners if there is a delay in getting the cars repaired.
"Almost everyone knows someone who owns a Honda," says one print ad, which urges friends to tell owners to contact the company. "We care about your safety, so please take action immediately."
The ads will focus on the 11 warm weather states and U.S. territories that Honda says are at greatest risk.
Honday says it has repaired just 14 percent of the recalled cars, or 340,123. Honda reported that 17,809 owners hadn't been found, despite mailings and phone calls.
Chrysler, Ford and Toyota, which also have recalled cars with Takata air bags, say they have also done phone calls and mailings, but none plans to match Honda's advertising effort.