MAZDA'S ABSTRACT LOOK GIVES BRAND EDGY FEEL

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While Pontiac is taking a technological leap forward with its all-computer-animated yet photorealistic TV campaign, commercials for Mazda North American Operations from Doner continue their cubist look at the world. The newest iteration of this distinctive visual approach, "Vegas," broke recently.

In a trio of spots for its Protege and Miata models, the agency and production house have achieved a look that is decidedly square, but in a hip way.

"We wanted to do something out of the box, and we ended up doing all boxes," joked Bryan McPeak, senior VP-creative director at Doner in Southfield, Mich.

The spots have all been produced at Rhythm & Hues, the Los Angeles-based studio that created the visual effects for the hit movie "Babe."

Mr. McPeak said the finished spots are a mix of computer-enhanced backgrounds and live-action footage. The film footage is manipulated during production and postproduction to give it a stuttered, jump-frame look.

The blocky world that the cars are seen in is a miniature set with photographs of actual cityscapes and landscapes attached. The blocks are then physically manipulated while car footage is digitally layered over it.

"With the original Protege spot, we didn't want it to look perfect," Mr. McPeak said. "It had a cool primitiveness to it."

To create the backgrounds, director Charlie Watson of Rhythm & Hues photographed actual locations.

"We then re-interpreted it like a 5-year-old might," he said.

The campaign has been so successful in changing perceptions about the brand that it's now going to become the overall visual look for all Mazda advertising, Mr. McPeak noted.

"The first spot was a one-off, but it did so well it made the whole brand feel edgier," he said.

Mr. McPeak worked on the campaign with creative directors Mike Rutka and Craig Piechura, copywriter Jac Mansour, art director Al Hazen and producers Chris

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