Hey you, you’re an “auto enthusiast,” right? You care about the “driving experience, yes”? Good, name a top-20 global automaker that sells one brand of cars globally, marketed specifically to enthusiasts.
Take your time answering, but there’s only one… and it has something very serious to say to you.
The Bailout Experience created a real shift in the auto industry’s communications with the public, especially among those automakers who were asking the public to keep them afloat. Existential angst brought a wave of sincerity, most notably from the most vulnerable bailout baby, Chrysler. The initial waves of insistent artlessness crashed against the rocks of American cynicism, the public having been well fed on aw-shucks, Americana-themed car ads for decades. Strangely, Chrysler and Ram brand advertising has continued to place a heavy emphasis on loyalty and sincerity (most notably with “Imported From Detroit“), while Dodge ads have gone the exact opposite direction: towards slick insincerity.
In this new Mazda ad, the Zoom-Zoom brand’s sincerity signals what their sales numbers already tell us: they could be doing better. Unlike Chrysler, however, they’re not asking for a lender of last resort: they want enthusiasts to put their money where their mouth is. Mazda is a small company (slightly larger than Chrysler and Mitsubishi in global volume, as of 2009), and perhaps more importantly, it’s a one-brand outfit. At least in the US market, Mazda has staked its fate on the idea that “the drive matters,” a position widely espoused on the internet and elsewhere.
So ask not whom Mazda howls for, sweet internet enthusiasts, for it howls for you. If the joy of driving (to borrow a phrase) matters to you, why don’t you own a Mazda? Does the performance level not live up to the brand’s pro-enthusiast sincerity? Does sufficient performance come with too many compromises (say, I don’t know, styling)? Did other considerations take priority over pure driving pleasure? Apparently there are plenty of reasons not to buy a Mazda, so let’s hear ’em.