BRAND BUILDING MOTIVATES DONER'S NEW MAZDA EFFORT: MIATA SPOTS AIM TO DRIVE TRAFFIC INTO DEALERS

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Mazda North American Operations is refocusing on brand building in its first full-fledged campaign from new agency W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich.

Mazda, which broke a teaser spot for the effort last week, launches a network TV schedule this week with spots inviting viewers to experience the rush of driving the redesigned 1999 Mazda Miata.

The edgy, fast-paced spot will be supported by spread ads in car enthusiast publications and other consumer magazines.

Doner won Mazda's $240 million national and dealer account last fall from Foote, Cone & Belding, Santa Ana, Calif.

The Miata ads introduce the new brand tagline "Get in. Be moved." FCB's last major campaign used a "Passion for the road" theme.

FOCUSING ON THE PRODUCT

"Doner is putting the focus back on the product," said Bill Cook, a Mazda dealer in suburban Detroit, adding that the agency "has re-energized the entire advertising focus and the creative process. They're re-establishing the brand. We have to let people know what Mazda is all about."

Doner is building the brand around the driving experience.

"It's an extension from where we were. It really clarifies the brand positioning," said Jay Amestoy, Mazda VP-public and government affairs. " `Passion for the road' was more of a statement. This is a call to action. . . . You need to drive people into the showroom. If you're not creating traffic for the dealers, you're not doing the job."

Mazda last year experienced a 6.9% decline in U.S. sales, with total sales dropping to 221,840 from 238,285 in 1996, according to the manufacturer.

"Clearly we think this [cam-paign] is going to revive sales," said Mr. Amestoy.

REGIONAL INTEGRATION

"We are going to integrate this [advertising] through the regional level and into the individual dealerships," said Timothy A. Blett, president of Doner Automotive.

Doner's first work for Mazda -- a national ad for the 626 sedan model -- broke earlier this year.

Mr. Blett said Doner's next round of advertising, in support of the B-Series Cab Plus Four, will debut in late June.

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