Mazda Should Learn from Toyota’s Genius Marketing

Mazda3 Zoom Zoom

Zoom Zoom may not be enough anymore.

Mazda’s famous tagline introduced the North American continent to the performance-bred pleasures of driving a Mazda. Whether you drove home in an RX-8 or picked up a more mundane Mazda MPV, the slogan promised that everything the company built had the soul of a sports car.

Mazda is Japan’s 5th biggest automaker and manufactures about 70 percent of its vehicles in Japan. It sells only about 10 percent of those in its home market and exports the other 90 percent. That’s not a profitable equation considering the relative weakness of the Japanese yen at the moment. The company expects to lose 100 billion yen ($3.1 billion) for 2011 and is thought to be searching for 70 billion yen to bolster overseas production in Thailand and Mexico.

There’s no question that Mazda builds great cars. To survive, though, it needs to get foreign production ramped up right away, partner with a larger automaker or sell a heckuva lot more cars. Moving on from Zoom Zoom and incorporating some innovative marketing like that of Japan’s number one automaker might do the trick.

Autoblog reports on a brilliant marketing strategy implemented for Toyota Belgium:

Toyota Belgium has just launched a new campaign for the Toyota RAV4 Black Edition that allows participants to earn discounts for the vehicle based on their location. Smartphone users download the RAV4 Adventure Discount App, travel to a so-called adventurous location within Belgium and sign in with the application. The app then calculates a discount based on just how daring you are.

So, maybe a trip deep into the Ardennes will yield a larger discount than a jaunt to one of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. A promotion like that gets people interested and involved in the brand. Once people have an emotional connection (they worked for that discount, after all), they are more likely to follow through with a purchase.

I’d expect to see similar promotions hitting the U.S. very soon!

Can Mazda’s problems be solved with better advertising?


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  1. Mazda used to have a personality. Today, it’s more of an also-ran. I think new car shoppers forget about Mazda- or look over it- partly due to poor advertising. If it can figure out to properly market SkyActive and actually tell us what it is and how it benefits us, that could change. Better ads isn’t going to fix the problem of where it builds its cars though. It might even make things worse, if sales increased and production had to be increased in Japan before foreign plants were ready. Tough situation for Mazda right now!

  2. In addition to horrible ad agencies, this company suffers from lack of a home market, monumental debt, and for years not realizing that most buyers are not physically similar to Japanese and turning out cars that are simply too small for American and even European torsos. Their largest shortcoming however is something that they never addressed until this new SkyActive concept and that is, horrible gas mileage. Hopefully, with the injection of new monies and perhaps a partner, they can come to grips with all their problems and bring back the zoom-zoom we became enamored with 20 years ago.

  3. Please no Mazda-thons.

    The Mazda3 Skyactiv is a remarkable car. Advertising will only get you so far and the current campaign’s not all that bad.

  4. I’m baffled in general with car ads. Most seem designed by clueless people who are probably more experienced with selling ipods or women’s underwear that heavy metal. Mazda seems one of those companies with a clueless ad agency. To this day I still have no idea what Skyactiv is or what it does, so that’s probably not a good use of expensive ad time. When I think about memorable car ads, several come to mind. VW has some great ads with the Vader Jr. ad (although the dog strikes back followup is a dud) and “is it fast, is it safe?”. That Camaro superbowl ad was great, and Kia hamsters and sock puppet ads are great. On the other hand, pretentious ads from Cadillac, Lincoln and Buick are not only forgettable, they’re almost embarassing to watch.

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