Doner Steers Mazda 3 Toward Young Males

LOS ANGELES Independent Doner will launch a new campaign for Mazda 3 the day after Christmas in cinemas and on television starting New Year’s Eve during Fox’s America’s Party.

The spot is the start of a strategic effort to skew the car to a younger, male and possibly first-time buyer, said Mike Belitsos, creative director. The client declined to comment on spending, but a source estimated that the automaker will spend about $120 million advertising Mazda 3.

The 60-second cinema iteration of the same creative idea (“Twins”) from the agency’s Newport Beach, Calif., office, shows a young man alone on a desert road, wondering in a voiceover narration if he will ever find a car that excites him. A Mazda 3 appears, and suddenly he’s driving it, with the car’s features intercut. He’s soon racing with a double of himself, driving a sports-package version of the model. “Two cars, the same, but different, kind of like those twins I met in Chicago,” he thinks aloud in narration, as a road sign for Chicago appears. The campaign’s standard tagline, “Zoom, zoom,” is supplemented with a temporary tag, “Rethink what’s possible.”

After the premiere during 2003’s final half hour, the spots will run during the Capital One Bowl and on ESPN on New Year’s Day, pursuant to its young, male target, and continue heavily in the first quarter, said a Doner rep.

“We’re trying to not just talk about image, but about substance, that these two cars are loaded with features,” said Belitsos, whose team included Jim Amicucci (copywriter) and Larry Donabedian (art director). “It’s not just playing a rock song that the target can groove to.”

Belitsos said that Doner’s focus groups showed “the target was pleasantly surprised that they could get all this on the car at its price— the moon roof, six-CD player, xenon headlights, navigation system. The younger, hipper target has the mind-set that ‘the first car I get might be just a stripped-down box on wheels.'”

The spot is the last creative approved under the Irvine, Calif., client’s director of marketing, Kristen Simmons, who left for Gateway earlier in June and was replaced by Eric Johnston. It is also the last Mazda commercial produced before Ford Motor Company’s commercial cost-cutting guidelines, which also impacts associated brands such as Mazda, went into effect. The Ford guidelines restrict production company markups and stipulate production and post-production procedures [Adweek, Oct. 13].

“Twins” was directed by Steve Ramser as a freelancer for Visitor, Los Angeles. A source said the commercial, bid in August and shot in September, cost less than $1 million to produce at an aggregate markup of about 20 percent, with travel and pension-and-welfare markups under 3 percent, significantly lower than the prevailing industry norm.

—with Karl Greenberg