Mazda 6 Kicks Off During Football

LOS ANGELES Mazda North America will start its most ambitious advertising effort of the year tonight, touting the relaunch of the Mazda 6, said Mike Nakashima, the client’s director of marketing.

The first spot, called “Stadium,” debuts during ESPN’s Monday Night Football, modifying the nameplate’s well-known tagline to “Zoom-zoom. Forever.”

The campaign also represents the first collaboration between Nakashima, who ascended to marketing chief in March, and Rob Strasberg, evp, chief creative officer at independent Doner, Southfield, Mich., who replaced John DeCerchio, who retired in January.

Nakashima said that as the Mazda 6 was redesigned “to be more powerful, larger, more fuel efficient, the messaging talks to a more mature buyer.” The target audience is moving from the men in their 30s to both men and women, 30-50. “Historically, the marketing tonality has been ‘fun to drive,’ which is still at the core of our brand,” said Nakashima. “Now, we’re adding more rational, pragmatic reasons to buy.”

“Stadium” starts as a Gladiator-like period piece, replete with the impressionable boy and beautiful empress awaiting the hero’s chariot. A modern garage door opens and a black Mazda 6 drives into the center of the arena, hushing the crowd in awe. Successive titles read, “Bigger. Faster. Smarter.”

In a second spot, “Factory,” a heartbeat sound in the “zoom-zoom” beat punctuates imagery of aerodynamic tests and the car being assembled. One whimsical shot sees a factory technician fist-bumping with a robot arm.

All spots end with the tagline, “The totally, completely, 100% new Mazda 6.”

Nakashima described his first project with Strasberg as unusually productive. “He’s a prolific creative. I was impressed with the range and breadth of creative concepts he brought to the table.” He said the campaign would include a mix of online and print, directed to a “slightly more upscale” target. “It’s our most important launch for the year, and we’ll put the majority of our marketing resources against it,” he said. “The launch is very important for the brand overall.”

Nakashima said “Zoom-zoom. Forever” emphasizes the permanence of the brand positioning. “It’s our stake in a ground,” he said. “It captures the company’s essence.”

Mazda sales are down 2 percent to 199,000 units through August; the Mazda 6 is down 4 percent on the year to 36,000 units, per Car Concepts.

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