If you’ve seen the “rock van” commercial starring the 2011 Honda Odyssey, what comes to mind? Heavy rock music? Fire? A bewildered man who unluckily drops his gallon of milk? The Toho Co., the film studio behind multiple Godzilla movies, recalls something else and is taking Honda to court for what it believes is illegal use of the movie creature’s image.
Godzilla is known for terrorizing cities and causing the human population to run and scream, and Toho is claiming the monster’s fire-spitting headshot wasn’t authorized for Honda’s consumption. In the commercial, a dark, reptilian head can be seen alongside rocker Judas Priest when the camera cuts to the rear entertainment system’s video flip-screen. Outside of the minivan, there’s no shortage of fiery explosions, or fire in general, because pyrotechnics and heavy metal apparently appeal to the male demographic that Honda is set on wooing.
Toho filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles on February 2. A Honda spokesperson told Automotive News the company wouldn’t comment on the suit, but did say that the company hasn’t pulled the ad as of yet.
"We took a legal action because Godzilla was used without authorization in the Odyssey commercial,” said Junichi Tamaki, a Toho Co. spokesperson in Tokyo. “It is an infringement of copyright."
We’ve included the commercial below, courtesy of Honda’s YouTube channel. What is purported to be Godzilla appears around the 15-second mark of the 30-second spot.
If that is undeniably Godzilla, does one of the world’s most famous monster heroes/villains lend credence to the Odyssey? Let us know your thoughts below.