Tag Archives: Mazda

Mazda’s Game Changer?

Mazda North American Operations has had a dicey time elbowing for share of voice against much bigger players in the car business. Russell Wager, who joined Mazda last fall as VP of US marketing, admits there were months, like November and January, when the company didn’t advertise on US television.

RussellWagerMazda“It’s okay for us to be the little guy,” Wager said.

But like Davis vs. Goliath, Mazda has a new attitude – and a new strategy – to boost its presence not only on TV, but also in search and digital, as well as high-profile places like Times Square and a promotional tie-in with an upcoming movie.

Wager compared Mazda to MLB’s Oakland A’s, which ranked last out of 30 teams for payroll costs, but still finished 4th overall. He declined to reveal specifics of Mazda’s ad budget.

Mazda spends about $280 million a year on ads and media, well below the major car brands.

Mazda is kicking off its biggest ad campaign in 13 years in May. Themed “Game Changers,” ads will highlight pioneers of the past who figured out a way to excel in their areas of expertise. You know, like Mazda.

The first work features Olympian Dick Fosbury, who revolutionized high jumping with his new “back-first” technique that won him a Gold Medal in 1968.

MazdaFosburyPrintAd

“We are going to look at game changers- people who used courage to defy conventional wisdom,” said Harvey Marco, chief creative officer of Garage Team Mazda, the brand’s ad agency since 2010. He said other big names featured in the ads will be Mary Quaint, the mini skirt inventor, and Laird Hamilton, the big-wave surfer who dreamed up tow-in surfing, which involves a jet ski pulling the skier into monstrous curls.

There will be plenty of people who never heard of  these folks. But that’s okay since the Big Idea should overcome that.

Although the campaign breaks for the launch of the 2014 Mazda6 sedan, the new umbrella theme will spread to all models, all branding, in all messaging, including events, regional dealer advertising and sales offers.

That approach differs from how Mazda did things in the past and the uniform ad platform “will make our (ad) fund go further,” says Wager. Mazda is boosting its digital and search spending by 40% this year from 2012. Wager says the brand will reduce its reliance on TV. Although broadcast will account for the biggest chunk of the overall ad spend, at 65%, Mazda will be on television all year. Although digital will comprise 25% of all spending, the undisclosed total is 40% more than 2012 (and includes search). Print and out-of-home ads account for the remaining 10% of the budget.

Look for Mazda to takeover Yahoo’s home page with jumper Fosbury, carrying the headline “This is how he changed the game. This is how we changed the game.” (with the new Mazda6).

And from now on, Mazda ads will show only red vehicles “so they  pop off the page,” Marco said.

Mazda’s new consumer research, done over the past 5 months, and new analytics approach, will boost retail sales and reach, Wager said.

Mazda partnered with the upcoming space thriller “Star Trek Into Darkness” as part of the 6’s launch. Check out this  :30 commercial Mazda did to help promote the film

It makes sense for Mazda to team up with this sci fi flick to tout its SKYACTIV Technology that improves driving, safety and fuel economy.  Mazda has an app related to the movie that assigns 5 missions, including a trip to a Mazda dealership to take and upload a photo. Dealers will also get movie tickets to share with  service customers.

Mazda takes the “Game Changer” theme to print and out-of-home ads, like this interactive board carrying the headline “When you  Change Everything, You Change Everything.”

Mazda6adChange

I may be nitpicking, but this ad (shown) and several like it remind me an awful lot of the work BBDO Detroit did back in 1992 for the launch of the new Dodge Intrepid. “We’re Changing Everything,” was the ad theme for that campaign. Okay, that was back in 1992, so maybe I am nitpicking.

Anything that can get little Mazda more exposure is a good thing.

MAKING TRACKS: Life IS stranger than  fiction. Steve Majoros joins Cadillac as global marketing director. Majoros was a managing director at IPG’s Campbell-Ewald ad agency. C-E had been Chevrolet’s ad agency for more than 90 years and is said to be in the pitch for Cadillac’s business. What does that mean for Fallon, Caddy’s current ad shop? Bad news, probably.

MAKING TRACKS II : Word is Hyundai creative ad agency ,affiliate Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach is close to hiring a new COO after a year-long search. Stay tuned, folks.

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Rating Mazda’s New Ads

Does Mazda “Zoom. Zoom” in new ads from its new ad agency?
Not so much.
WPP Group won the first-bundled North American creative and media review for Mazda last summer. Creative from the newly-formed and dedicated TeamMazda shop has been starting to show up on television.
The commercials start out stark, using cardboard shapes on white backgrounds to accentuate points about a Mazda. Big bold words also appear on the stark backgrounds.
One of the latest spots shows an elephant shaped out of corrugated cardboard and on little blue wheels responding poorly to headwinds. The ad points out that Mazda’s crossover design is much sleeker than many elephant-like suvs out there since it’s more aerodynamic.
Here’s an earlier commercial, called “Cookie Cutter,” for the Mazda3i Sport using the same cardboard & lettering techniques and featuring the music of Pretty Ricky

This work reminds me a bit of Ford’s F-150 pickup work, from WPP sibling TeamDetroit. Probably no surprise since Team Mazda hired away some key folks from TeamDetroit.
These Mazda spots don’t really give viewers a crystal-clear idea exactly what the brand stands for. They don’t really capture Mazda’s fun-to-drive, “Zoom. Zoom” soul. They leave you cold.

To make matters worse– some  Tier Three ads,  or  those of individual dealers, are simply awful. Check out this President’s Day Sale ad for Brown Mazda in Toledo, Ohio

Other carmakers have wrestled with their all-over-the-map Tier Three ads before, so hopefully Mazda can come up with a solution.

All of this makes you wonder why Mazda opted for a review last year and decided to drop its agency since 1997, Doner in Southfield, Michigan.
Oh right, at the time Mazda CMO Don Romano said the automaker wanted “to consolidate to get greater focus and efficiencies.” He also said he wanted “more focus on brand strategy so we can’t deviate so easily.”
Romano said WPP’s analytical capabilities will help Mazda quickly figure out whether its ad efforts are working and if not, they can be changed.
We hope TeamMazda has more up its creative sleeves.
Mazda products are STILL better than its advertising.
The brand deserves much better.

MAKING TRACKS:  Gunnar Wilmot, moves into the office of  CEO and Partner at  The Ad Store in Manhattan. Wilmot retired (young) more than a year ago after 25 years at IPG, where he headed Gotham, McCann Detroit, and had been global account director on General Motors’ account at McCann.

Find me on Twitter @jhal2001

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.

http://apps.facebook.com/driverville/

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.

http://www.facebook.com/FordExplorer

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.