MAZDA'S ADS FOR MPV SLATED FOR FALL: MODEL AT DEALERS EARLY, BUT DELAYED TO AVOID MODEL-YEAR CLEARANCES

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Although its new 2000-model MPV minivan will be moving into dealer showrooms this week, Mazda North American Operations will delay introductory advertising until Sept. 6, when it debuts two TV spots and print ads that will run through the first quarter.

Over the last four months of the year, the launch will get about 14% of the marketer's overall North American ad budget for 1999. In 1998, Mazda spent $199.6 million in measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

In the interim, Mazda is running a contest giving away one-year leases on MPVs and other merchandise. It has promoted that effort through direct mail, dealership displays and its Web site (www.mazdausa.com).

"This is really unique in that we got the vehicles in earlier than expected and we can market the vehicles for 60 days before the launch," said Chris Vournakis, Mazda advertising manager.

SUMMER SALES

Mazda could have pushed to get creative done, but felt the dog days of summer were a bad time to launch the minivan. Many dealers are running model clearance sales.

"It wouldn't have been the right timing to advertise this vehicle in July and August," Mr. Vournakis said.

Debbie Hjelmstrom, Mazda's manager of integrated marketing, termed the interim effort "one of our first real integrated pre-launch campaigns."

"Normally, we just go full-bore and do a high-profile launch, but because we were in a unique position we decided to do this to generate buzz and awareness," she said.

'GET IN. BE MOVED'

The launch advertising, currently in production by Doner, Southfield, Mich., will use two constant elements: the "cubistic" animated background as seen in Protege spots, and the phrase "Get in. Be moved."

That "brand promise" will be used in place of a specific MPV tagline.

Jim Sailer, Mazda manager of product marketing plans, said spots will run mostly on prime-time broadcast network shows, with scattered spot cable. Print will appear in auto-buff, finance, home and family-oriented magazines.

MPV ads will key on the vehicle's styling, Mr. Sailer said.

Mazda's Web promotion of the MPV includes the phrase, "Finally, a minivan to be seen in."

Mazda is targeting younger, more style-conscious minivan buyers with preschool children.

"They're looking for a solution that doesn't ask them to compromise their sense of style," Mr. Sailer said. "They don't want to buy a box."

Mazda dealers haven't had a minivan to sell since the 1998 model year.

"In many of our key markets, the old MPV was a high-volume vehicle for some of our dealers, particularly in California," Mr. Sailer said. "So the dealers are

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