The video proposal— which has a cat-and-mouse dynamic between Madonna and Britney evoking similar sexual undertones as the pair's liplock at the recent MTV Video Music Awards— didn't scare off Eric Johnston, marketing director at Mazda North American Operations. The proposal from Jive Records landed on his desk two weeks before the shoot. Unnamed competitors' cars were also under consideration, but what gave Mazda the edge was Spears' "enthusiasm" for the RX-8. Johnston declined to reveal spending, saying only the proposal "came to us with a higher number and we got it for significantly less."
"We went into it with our eyes open," said Johnston. He and his team saw the video's script before production, and Mazda had a "good idea of what the video would be. We didn't think we were taking a big risk." Mazda does have defined rules for product placements, which include no crashes and no promotion of alcohol.
Mazda expects the video to attract both Britney and Madonna fans from 16 to 35 years old. The marketer hopes to create aspirations in younger buyers for Mazda vehicles. The average age of a Mazda buyer is 37.
Johnston has notified Mazda offices around the world about the video. But it won't air in Japan, where Spears has a contract with Toyota.
%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% "Britney followers would lust after that car, but Madonna has an incredible volume of fans that can afford it," said Todd Turner, president of marketing consultancy CarConcepts. "Mazda has to do anything it can to get attention for its brand."
Johnson said the RX-8 has been in music videos for two other artists this year, Ludacris, for which it paid to be in, and Nelly, which it did not.
The video is a song from Spears' fourth album, "In the Zone," which dropped yesterday. The video was released Oct. 21 and can be seen on MTV as well as online (jiverecords.com, yahoo and mtv.com).
Through October, Mazda said it sold 8,166 RX-8s, which started trickling into showrooms in June.