Mazda switches off TV, stays out of out-of-home for new-model launch

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Mazda is about to launch a new model in the U.S.-without TV advertising.

A TV-less car launch is not unprecedented, but it is rare, and is a first for the Japanese automaker.

TV sellers are unlikely to be unduly worried about the lost revenue, given that the company wouldn't be expected to put a huge budget behind this particular vehicle, the Mazda5 tall wagon. Still, they might be worried about the thinking behind it. Don Romano, VP-marketing, said that the younger target for the vehicle "isn't a broad demographic that would be conducive to television."

Instead the Mazda5 tall wagon will be marketed via an aggressive magazine buy starting in July issues, an extensive online ad push, direct mail, plus partnerships with global fashion brands' Quiksilver and basketball-apparel marketer And1. The launch plan also eschews radio and out-of-home.

NOT GIVING UP ZOOM, ZOOM

The six-seat Mazda5 is aimed at 25-to-35-year-olds with a need for a cool, versatile vehicle. "They're a younger generation with children coming along and aren't willing to give up their zoom, zoom," added Mr. Romano, referring to the brand's positioning and ad tag from independent Doner, Southfield, Mich. The target "doesn't consume media by sitting in front of the television and sucking down ads."

Launching a model without TV is not without its perils, a lesson learned the hard way by Volvo Cars of North America in fall 2000. That's when Volvo attempted to launch a model, the S60 sporty sedan, with an all-online blitz it called "Revolvolution."

Within months, the Ford Motor Co.-owned brand added TV spots after dealers complained the online ads weren't generating enough showroom traffic. Ford Motor has a controlling interest in Mazda.

Overall Mazda North American Operations will spend the same amount on TV advertising in 2005 as it did 2004, said Mr. Romano, but it has beefed up spending in other areas, including direct mail, online and promotions. He hinted at product placements for Mazda5 on NBC's "Fear Factor" later this year.

All but $1 million of the $42 million Mazda spent in measured media in 2005's first quarter was in television, according to TNS Media Intelligence. In calendar 2004, $186 million of Mazda's $284 million measured media spending went to broadcast networks, cable, spot and syndicated TV, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Mazda will sponsor Quiksilver's surfing camps, where it will offer test drives. Quiksilver is also customizing Mazda5s for displays.

Strategy

The TV-free push targets buyers who "don’t consume media by ... sucking down [TV] ads"

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