Uh-Oh - Like Chevrolet, Mazda's New Commercials Also Have Real People

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
uh oh like chevrolet mazdas new commercials also have real people

They’ve haunted you in your sleep. “The lines down here are seamless, like classic German design,” a British fellow says about the new Chevrolet Malibu.

You overhear them during the morning news breaks as you walk to your gate at the airport. “Business in the front, party in the back,” a young woman says, describing the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback.

“I am surprised that it’s Chevy,” a woman responds after being asked what she thinks about Bowtie victories in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. You vomit a little in your mouth.

But in the eyes of General Motors, Chevrolet’s Real People, Not Actors campaign is working. And it appears Mazda thinks quite highly of the formula as well.

“From where I sit two years in, there’s no sign that it’s losing steam,” Chevrolet vice president of marketing, Paul Edwards told Automotive News in May. “In fact, every month, like I said, it continues to pick up in terms of our ability to break through and drive opinion.”

GM likes what it sees, and wants to keep seeing more of the same. “For the foreseeable future, we don’t have a change in mind,” Edwards said.

Mazda’s new Driver’s Choice ads will by no means be outright copies of the Chevrolet marketing scheme, just as Chevrolet’s willingness to essentially highlight its own quality reputation — why do people find it so hard to believe Chevrolet builds quality cars? — was different from Buick’s means of denigrating its image.

Mazda’s focus is on displaying “luxury vehicle owners who unknowingly choose a Mazda vehicle over premium brands after a blind test drive.”

Yes, premium.

Maybe even

For Mazda’s blind test, vehicles were disguised with camo to hide not just badges but the distinctive shape of the vehicle. “The participants were then asked to give their honest feedback after test driving the vehicles and evaluating their features,” Mazda says.

Lo and behold, Mazda also filmed the blind test, to the surprise of absolutely nobody. “This was a risky, but fun way for us to gain insight into what our customers experience when they visit a dealership,” Mazda North America’s marketing vice president Russell Wager says, as if Mazda would have ever allowed the clips to go to air even if the participants preferred the Germans.

Mazda says its real people weren’t just owners of premium vehicles but individuals who are also “premium experts because of their professions.” That includes an architect, designer, and an engineer.

Automotive journalist? Pfft.

Incidentally, Mazda’s Driver’s Choice advertising spot includes in the not-so-fine print some very familiar text: “Real people. Not actors.”

Mazda’s premium push is nothing new. Mazda doesn’t intend to be an Audi rival overnight. Indeed, Mazda doesn’t believe premium positioning against premium brands is the goal at all. Rather, Mazda wants a premium slice of the mainstream market. While the Driver’s Choice ad counterintuitively clarifies that Mazda isn’t a premium brand, it also serves to bolster Mazda’s justifiable claim that a modern Mazda interior can offer a cut-above experience, at least in comparison with similarly priced competitors.

If Mazda lets itself down on the premium front in the Driver’s Choice commercial, which will run from July 1, 2017 through the Labor Day weekend to September 4, 2017, it does so by returning to the age-old incentive-propelled advertising for the final one-third of the ad.

Mazda seemingly can’t resist, noting interest-free financing for 60 months on 2017 Mazda 3s and Mazda 6s with a $1,000 discount and a three-month payment deferral.

If you’re going to sell cars based on a premium position, you must at times allow the premium aspect of the car to speak for itself. If the cars are so great, why does Mazda feel it necessary to advertise the fact that people aren’t willing to even pay the modest, non-premium asking price?

Also, Mazda showcases a five-model lineup at the end of the Driver’s Choice clip: CX-9, CX-5, MX-5, 3, and 6. Whither the CX-3 — is it insufficiently premium?

[Image: Mazda/YouTube]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • John R John R on Jul 03, 2017

    I wonder if Mazda allowed those two to take their camo'ed Mazda6's out on the interstates and highways of the real world so they could experience the "premium" feel of the gutless powertrain.

    • See 1 previous
    • EX35 EX35 on Jul 03, 2017

      @Daniel J If you are going to be gutless, at least be smooth. The 2.5 is no Honda 4-cyl. And with the next gen accord including a turbo as the base engine, thr Mazda engine will certainly feel gutless.

  • DownUnder2014 DownUnder2014 on Jul 04, 2017

    Hmm...interesting, we never got this advertisement for the Mazda 6 on my end. I have not seen it advertised in ages!

  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).