INFINITI, MAZDA TO JOIN 'SINGLE LOOK' AD TREND

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Car marketers are changing the look of their advertising so the look of their advertising doesn't change.

Infiniti will introduce a new look and feel for ads across its lineup starting with this summer's launch of the redesigned I30, said Tom Orbe, VP-general manager of the luxury division of Nissan North America.

Mazda North America, meanwhile, will adopt a uniform look in spots for all its cars using modular sets similar to the building-block look used in ads for the 1999 Protege, said Ron Neale, director of marketing.

That set, created by photographing buildings then pasting the shots on wooden blocks, was carried into a recent Miata spot.

NEW PROTEGE TV

A second Protege spot with a block set, via Doner, Southfield, Mich., breaks next week.

Many other car marketers have already adopted similar umbrella approaches for executions. Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division, General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile and Toyota Motor Sales USA are recent converts. And DaimlerChrysler's Dodge Division has used a uniform ad approach since 1994.

Both Mazda and Infiniti have struggled in recent years. But in 1998, Mazda enjoyed its first profitable year in seven years in North America. Unit sales rose to 240,546, from 221,840 in 1997, according to Automotive News. Infiniti sales slipped last year to 63,649 units, from 65,552 the previous year.

Mr. Orbe said Infiniti is changing the look of its ads "to enhance recognition and the continuity" of the brand's campaign. New music will be used to better connect with baby boomers and Generation Xers, he added.

VARIETY FOR INFINITI

Infiniti has used a variety of ad themes, tags and music in recent years in executions from TBWA/

Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.

In fall 1996, it switched the tag for its flagship Q45 model from "Thinking of you" to "Everything changes but the soul." By 1997, actor Jonathan Pryce disappeared from ads that showed pretentious parties and moody street scenes, and the brand introduced another tagline, "Own one and you'll understand."

Infiniti ads have been too focused on price or lease deals, which hurt its image as a premium brand, said James Hall, a VP at consultancy AutoPacific.

The 2000-model I30 will get a $50 million-plus ad push when it makes its debut this summer. The model got a mere $3.8 million last year in measured media for product ads, with an additional $11.8 million spent on I30 lease ads, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Art Spinella, VP of consultancy CNW Marketing, said the I30 is crucial to Infiniti's future. The division leases nearly 59% of all its vehicles, yet only 23.2% of consumers keep the cars after their leases end.

"No one has ever done a good job of following up with customers at the end of

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