Mazda Japan gives foreign president starring role

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TOKYO -- Mazda, the Japanese car firm, is fronting its new ads with a celebrity foreigner - its own President. The strategy, via agency Hakuhodo, aims to build on the confidence that the public has in the new President's abilities to reverse the company's ailing fortunes in Japan.

Henry Wallace is a well-known figure - among the business community in particular - as the first foreigner to head a Japanese company. A Scot by birth, he was seconded from the U.S. Ford and made President when Ford raised its stake in Mazda to 33.4% in May. Pre-advertising research by Mazda in Japan found that awareness of Wallace was sufficiently high to put him in a starring role.

So far, print is the only medium in which he appears. A full page two-color ad in around 50 Japanese newspapers shows a full-length picture of the middle-aged Wallace alongside copy announcing the launch of a new city car, the Demio, and the tagline: "The practical car, the enjoyable car, that's Mazda." The overall campaign is titled:"New Mazda."

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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