Doner’s Swan Song for Mazda- What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Mazda is launching its new Mazda2 small car on Facebook, the latest automaker to try to tap into the social media grapevine.
Visitors can play a game, enter a weekly and grand sweepstakes, do tasks to get virtual “bucks” to buy virtual stuff and get friends involved.

Check it out. Let me know how you liked it and how well you think it will work.

It loaded slowly on the first day and the background techno music for the game was annoying. I’m not a fan of similar Facebook games like Farmville, but then again I’m not in the younger target demographic for this five-door hatchback that’s smaller than the Mazda3.
The Facebook blitz will be followed in mid-August with ads on television, in movie theaters, print, lifestyle web sites and a music tour.
The campaign, including the Facebook push, is the swan song for Doner in Southfield, Michigan. Doner, Mazda’s ad agency since 1997 and creator of the automaker’s “Zoom.Zoom” ad tag, was topped in a review by WPP Group. WPP is now forming a new dedicated agency, dubbed Team Mazda, to handle the automaker in all of North America from a new office in Irvine, California. WPP assumes the account in October.
The new agency will be set-up similar to WPP’s TeamDetroit for Ford Motor Co., which until last year held a controlling interest in Mazda Motor Corp. TeamDetroit already bought Mazda’s national media and Mazda North America’s CEO Jim O’Sullivan worked for Ford for about 30 years until 2008, when he formally became a Mazda employee.
The folks at Mazda insisted some of the TeamDetroiters move over to their account at the new WPP agency and a lot of the back-office stuff will be handled by Team Detroit.
This all jives with the grapevine buzz before the formal review started this spring that Mazda had already heard a pitch TeamDetroit and it was in the bag. It was no secret among those in the know that WPP had coveted Mazda’s US account since its Ogilvy & Mather agency network was bested by Doner in the 90s’ pitch and that the folks at WPP had knocked on Mazda’s door for the North American account for a long time- unsuccessfully – until now. WPP’s JWT arm has handled Mazda in Europe for more than 12 years.
Mazda’s North America’s brass denied this, natch, although I suspect they protest too much.
O’Sullivan did tell me this spring he travels frequently to Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and also has meetings with his longtime acquaintances from WPP at nearby TeamDetroit.
He and CMO Dom Romano insisted the review wasn’t about Doner’s work and that cost wasn’t the major driver. Romano expects more integration from WPP and likes WPP’s analytical capabilities that can help Mazda quickly see whether ad efforts are working.
Mazda WILL see a cost savings, especially with TeamDetroit handling the back-shop stuff.
The brand’s Facebook effort comes two days after Ford’s boffo first-look, high-profile reveal of its all-new Explorer on Facebook, from TeamDetroit.

Doner did some great work for Mazda. My personal favorite was the 2000 TV commercial that was really a brand essence video the agency did for the pitch showing children enjoying their bicycles and other toys with wheels. The Big Idea was Mazda makes fun-to-drive cars for adults in touch with their inner child.
Doner captured some of that in 2007 with this Mazda6 commercial

But some of that early exhilaration lost its zip. This 2007 TV spot for the CX-9 didn’t have the same Zoom. Zoom zing.

Mazda says it will keep Zoom. Zoom in its ads, which has been used around the world.

Looking forward to TeamMazda’s interpretation.

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