To break through the clutter, automakers must develop a simple, consistent message geared to their target consumer.
MAZDA BREAKS THROUGH
That consistency is illustrated this year by Mazda North America Operations as it takes a new approach to introduce its 1999 Miata. Instead of airing 30-second spots, Mazda used 15-second teaser spots so it could run twice as many commercials. This new image strategy -- to be repeated in future car launches -- consistently repeats a simple message.
The national advertising tagline, "Get in. Be moved," is asking consumers to do something, "get in," and then tells them why, "to be moved."
"The power of the advertising lies in the power of the simple idea," says Tim Blett, president-automotive division of W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich. "One focused idea, that's how you break through the clutter."
NEW MODELS TO BUILD BRAND
Mazda will launch a new model every six months for the next two years. Each new model will be a building block in the construction of its brand image.
Mazda, along with other automakers, says it believes it is easier to cut through the automotive ad clutter by marketing the Mazda brand, rather than trying to establish an identity for each model.
When Mazda hired Doner to handle its $240 million account last fall, it charged the agency with creating an image that conveys it as a producer of stylish cars appropriate for savvy consumers. Previously, the company used advertising to tout its prices, says Richard Beattie, president of Mazda.
A redrafting of its ad philosophy seemed in order as the company watched its sales drop 69.2% from yearend 1994 to yearend 1997.
HITTING THE RIGHT TARGET
The concept of a unified ad message coming from regional and national levels is another facet of the simplified approach, according to Mr. Blett. However, he says it's still important to understand the consumer's profile.
"Cutting through the clutter on a general basis is not my interest. What I want to do is cut through the clutter on our target," says Mr. Blett.
At the regional level, Mazda supports ads with tie-ins. Miata club members, for instance, were invited to dealerships to display their vehicles.
Mr. Blett says the intent of such a mission is to attract crowds.
DEALERS SUPPORT STRATEGY
"Some of the efforts will be supplemented with targeted communications," says Mr. Blett. "Our owner body is being invited to dealerships for special unveiling parties for the Miata."
To facilitate the concept of a unified message, dealers have been sent a 100-page manual, which includes the brand position, how they can tie into it and examples of how they can mount merchandising deals on the local level.
The manual also advises Mazda dealers on how to treat their owners, how to treat people who want to take a test drive and how to merchandise their showrooms and lots.
"A lot of people out there in all businesses still use pretty much of a scatter-gun effort and hope to catch a broad audience," Mr. Beattie says. "In our case, we have to be much more targeted to achieve communications efficiencies because this business is very, very expensive.
"We have to grab people with the uniqueness of our advertising.
"We hope and we'll see if what we are trying to do with the Miata does that."
CADDY INTEGRATES LAUNCH
Indeed, General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac Motor Car Division will use an integrated marketing launch for the Seville to cut through the clutter via its agency, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich.
Cadillac's ad campaign for the Seville includes radio promotions and previews at dealerships.
National advertising break-ing this week for the Seville follows earlier teaser prints ads in 14 markets. In addition to an outdoor effort, Cadillac is running spot TV and radio ads in Los Angeles, Miami, New York and West Palm Beach, Fla.
By the end of March, the campaign was expected to have reached 93% of the Seville's target market in those four markets -- 35-to-64-year-olds with household incomes of more than $100,000.