Mazda is inviting Facebook users to test drive its new entry-level car, the Mazda2, in DriverVille, a game launching on the social network site today that serves as the central element in the introductory ad campaign from Doner in Southfield, Mich.
The game introduces the character "Your Inner Driver," an avatar users can interact with and the star of a campaign that positions the vehicle as "Zoom-Zoom Concentrated." Related TV and cinema spots will break next month, along with print, online advertising and a music tour.
"The Mazda2 is Zoom-Zoom in its most concentrated form," said Don Romano, president of Mazda Canada and CMO of Mazda North America. "DriverVille is where 'Your Inner Driver' can learn about the Mazda2 and connect with other drivers in the social space."
DriverVille, modeled after popular Zynga games on Facebook like "FarmVille," allows users to customize their "Your Inner Driver" avatar and play to win "Driver Bucks" to buy virtual items like snow tires or a roof rack as well as win weekly sweepstakes prizes. Existing Mazda owners are offered extra incentive to play the game with unique codes that gives them access to added content. The grand prize is a 2011 Mazda2. Zynga did not work on this effort. Doner created DriverVille with Frima, the Quebec developer behind virtual games like Build-a-bearville.com.
"DriverVille is really about getting into the mind-set of the car and the driving experience," said Rob Strasberg, co-CEO and COO of Doner. "Above all it's fun, like a Mazda."
The game, said Justin Smith, evp, ecd, interactive at Doner, "brings the campaign concept to life, which is to follow your inner driver. We believe everyone has this character inside them. It's about fun, enjoying driving and turning it into a social experience."
Some offline TV and cinema advertising appears in the game.
For example, players can view a 60-second commercial that will later air in cinemas in an entertainment complex in the game. The spot, "Follow," shows a man chasing the character.
"The inner driver is the part of you that wants to connect with the driving experience, the part of you that craves fun and excitement," said Smith.
The agency, which has advertised the brand since 1997, declined to comment whether this campaign represents the last of its work with the company.
Mazda, whose major media spending totaled $155 million last year, per Nielsen, last month shifted advertising duties for the brand to a team of WPP Group agencies following a review.
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