Doner Feels the Love in Spots for Mazda RX-8

LOS ANGELES The comeback of the rotary engine is the focus of Mazda’s estimated $20 million-plus launch campaign for the RX-8, which breaks during ESPN’s Sunday night football coverage.

The campaign, fashioned by Doner’s Southfield, Mich., and Newport Beach, Calif., offices, includes a 30-second spot and two 15-second iterations which will run as front and back ends of commercial breaks throughout the rest of the year.

Ads combine emotional and intellectual persuasion in an effort to appeal to both sides of the sports car buyer’s mind, said Tim Blett, president of Doner in Newport Beach.

In the 30-second “Embrace,” a man’s loving contemplation of the RX-8 in his garage is intercut with his fantasies of open-road racing. At one point, he hugs the car and its doors open in such a way that the vehicle seems to be returning his embrace.

“We wanted to tap into the key consumer insight that guys love their cars,” said Blett, “though they don’t want to show it, except in private.”

All spots feature a revolving Mazda crest icon and Mazda’s familiar “Zoom, zoom” tagline.

The RX-8 has been touted by Mazda as its most important product launch in a decade. The spots comprise the third phase of a push that has included guerilla marketing efforts by BigPhat, New York, and the car’s appearance on TV and in films, including a turn in the summer movie X-Men 2, as the escape vehicle of hero Wolverine.

Robert Davis, Mazda’s senior vice president of marketing and product development, said ad expenditures will “significantly” exceed the $22 million Mazda spent rolling out the third-generation RX-7s in 1992. “It is our halo car, the one at the top of the mountain,” said Davis of the RX-8. “On a relative basis, it is as important to Mazda as the model’s first generation.”

RX-8 development began in 1994 with the conversion of the 13B twin-turbo engine to a new rotary design that would pass rigorous emissions tests while not degrading high performance.