Wednesday, April 18, 2018

When a new tagline kills the feeling

A headline from AutoNews states: Mazda Turns to Emotions with New Ad Campaign. I'm not sure that they weren't already there, though.

About two and a half years ago, my 2004 VW Jetta's transmission went; it was time for a new car. After the whole VW fiasco—and the fact that their designs have become quite boring—I started to look at other makers. I ended up narrowing down my choices to Subaru and Mazda. And I landed on Mazda.

Zoom. Zoom.

In 2000, Mazda launched "Zoom Zoom". It had a catchy song. It had a cute kid whispering “Zoom Zoom”. It connected to a feeling people had about wanting to go fast and live a "zoom zoom" life.

In 2015, Mazda tried to define what "Zoom Zoom" meant with "Driving Matters." (Honestly, I didn't even realize this until researching for this post.) They kept the “Zoom Zoom” tagline, although I would say, what did they want people to remember, because two lines is a lot.
Funnily enough, the AdAge article about this new campaign has a similar headline to the AutoNews headline from last month: Mazda Launches Major Campaign, Puts Emotion Back into ‘Zoom Zoom’. Here’s an excerpt from that article on the why behind “Driving Matters”.

"When we go into a focus group, we do a first opening statement. 'When I say Mazda, what do you think of?'" said Russell Wager, VP-U.S. marketing at Mazda. "Nine times out of 10 they say 'Zoom Zoom,'" he added, banging a table for emphasis. "Then I'll ask them to explain to me what 'Zoom Zoom' means, and I'll get six or seven different answers. That's what Driving Matters is supposed to address. It's supposed to solidify what 'Zoom Zoom' means to people.”

Mazda hopes its advertisements will appeal to a specific type of person, which it calls the "Global Mazda Target." But rather than targeting a demographic, Mazda aims for a "psychographic," of people who love to drive, are well informed and are more interested in collecting experiences than things.

So now, three years later, they unveiled a new campaign with the tagline, “Feel Alive.”

In their press release, they talk about how they want to make them feel something profound.
"Mazda has always engineered to a feeling. We want to build an emotional connection with our fans by making them feel something profound," said Bernacchi. "'Feel Alive' will be a celebration of human challenge, inspiration, exhilaration and potential and there’s no better moment to reveal it than NCAA Championship Monday."
The new brand platform will also pave the way for unexpected partnerships and integrations with innovative companies like Amazon. The relationship is based on a fresh approach to fan communities and leveraging Amazon as a social channel versus an e-commerce tool. Mazda owners on Amazon have given select models five-star reviews.
"Amazon is consumer-focused, data-driven and very well-aligned with our new brand platform," said Bernacchi. "We have a vocal and growing community of Mazda fans and owners on Amazon and we want to support that community with the same energy and attention we give to our other social communities like Facebook and Youtube."
I’m sorry, but "Feel Alive" doesn’t make me feel anything profound. Nothing that tells me to feel a certain way is going to be profound. But, I think the biggest issue with this is that it falls flat. They’ve gone from celebrating the feeling with words that embody that feeling to simply telling someone how to feel.

When I sit in my Mazda, and think about "Feel Alive", I go to places like "Don't Feel Dead", "Not for Zombies", and other things I'd rather not think about while driving with maniacs who cut people off and fundamentally don't believe in using their signals.

From the little bit of research I’ve done, it's obvious that Mazda as a brand wants to be an emotional one. And, it’s a shame that they've walked away from their emotional line that didn't have to tell anyone what to do or how to feel. It just was.

It was a great use of onomatopoeia, perhaps second to "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh what a relief it is." It helps make the idea more interesting and lively. It's emotional in and of itself. It doesn't need to tell people how to feel. It just is the feeling. And, I'm not sure it's a bad thing for people to take away what that means for themselves.

Brands have a fear of letting people put their own interpretation on them. It might be scary, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Let me take away what "Zoom Zoom" means to me without being forced to have a specific meaning tied to it. As long as they are all positive, it shouldn't matter.

Zoom. Zoom.


Jason Fox said...

What's doubly sad is that Mazda actually has a good lineup of vehicles. They're consistently rated at the head of their segments by the auto press, their designs have been above average to excellent for years, and their vehicles are actually engaging to drive. But man, their advertising has been forgettable for years. Bring back the double zoom, please.

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