Mazda Buys Into Racy MTV Music Video

Britney Spears and Madonna Reprise Their Homoerotic Tease

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Mazda North America Operations has taken a product placement in a music video in which Britney Spears and Madonna reprise their MTV Music Awards homoerotic tease.

The sports car gets 14 seconds in the video; the woman-on-woman musical action takes a little longer.
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Lesbian overtones
The new three-minute music video, "Me Against the Music," begins with a 14-second cameo of a Mazda RX-8 sports car and then cuts to a performance by Ms. Spears and Madonna that ends with lesbian overtones.

"We went into it with our eyes open," said Eric Johnston, marketing director at Mazda North American Operations. The video is for a song from Ms. Spears' fourth album, In the Zone, which went on sale Nov. 18.

He said his team saw the video's script before production, and although it wasn't that detailed, Mazda had a "good idea of what the video would be. We didn't think we were taking a big risk."

Breaks no rules
Mazda does have rules for product placements; none were broken because the video contains no car crashes or alcohol promotions.

Mr. Johnson said the proposal from Jive Records landed on his desk two weeks before the shoot -- the result of Jive insider knowledge about the carmaker's placement on the TV reality show Fear Factor.

Unnamed competitors' cars were also under consideration. But what gave Mazda the edge was Ms. Spears' "enthusiasm" for the RX-8, Mr. Johnson said. He declined to reveal spending, saying only that the proposal "came to us with a higher number and we got it for significantly less."

Aspirations of youth
Mazda expects the video to attract fans of both pop stars from 16 to 35 years old. The marketer hopes the cameo will help sell some RX-8s and leave younger consumers aspiring to own a Mazda. The average age of a Mazda buyer is 37, but Mr. Johnson said, "We have efforts in place to reach younger buyers to get them interested in our cars."

The automaker agreed to donate the silver RX-8 in the video to the nonprofit Britney Spears Foundation. The car, autographed on the hood and steering wheel by the singer, will be auctioned on EBay for until Nov. 30. The car's base suggested retail price is $26,680.

"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 consultant CarConcepts. "Mazda has to do anything it can to get attention for its brand."

Two other music videos
Mr. 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.

Through October, Mazda said it sold 8,166 RX-8s, which started trickling into showrooms in June. Mazda's total vehicle sales in the period were 216,489, a 4% decline from a year ago.

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