Adventures in Marketing: Mazda Wants You to Feel Alive

adventures in marketing mazda wants you to feel alive

Mazda recently dropped a very brief teaser video suggesting a reveal of some sort during the New York auto show. Only the smallest of glimpses were given of a Mazda-esque headlight and grille edging, leaving speculation running from a CX-9 crossover refresh to an all-wheel-drive 6 sedan.

Well, wonder no more, as Mazda has just shown a new RX-9 coupe with twin rotary engines, a rear-drive 929 sedan, and an importation of the Bongo Friendee.

No, wait, hang on. What I meant to say was Mazda spent nearly 30 minutes talking about a new marketing campaign and about how its customers aren’t customers — they’re fans. Sigh.

At least the tantalizing Mazda KAI Concept, a vehicle which this author has dubbed “Son of Brera,” was in the background during the TED Talk press conference.

To be fair, the company did mention updates made to the CX-3 crossover. For 2019, the little ute gets interior updates, chiefly in the form of an electronic parking brake that frees up room and allows for a significant increase in storage space. The new centre console and armrests shuffle around the placement of the CX-3’s cupholders and bins.

The 2019 Mazda CX-3 also gets new front chairs, redesigned to be wider and constructed with a high-density, vibration-absorbing urethane foam. The CX-3 has always felt a little small inside, so perhaps this change will alleviate some of that perception. Rear seat passengers gain a centre armrest with built-in cupholders, too. Heady stuff here, folks.

Most of the event was spent yammering about Mazda’s new tagline of “Feel Alive,” to be launched in conjunction with a new marketing program set to appear this coming Monday. Mazda North America chief marketing officer Dino Bernacchi held court on this topic for many minutes, explaining how the company refers to its customers as “fans” and that it’s forging some sort of tie-up with Amazon. Damned if I know those details, as my eyes had long glazed over by that point.

On Twitter, our former newsbot, Aaron Cole, had this to say about the new tagline:

Mazda new ad campaign: “Feel alive” because “It’s alive” already taken.

— Aaron "On-Demand" Cole (@ColeMeetsCars) March 28, 2018

Good observation, Mr. Cole. Essentially, the whole press conference could’ve been boiled down to “we are updating the About section of our website.” I fully expected to be pitched a time-share apartment in Florida at the end of the presentation.

Nods were given throughout to the upcoming Skyactiv-X powertrain, technology that is said to combine the free-revving characteristics of a gasoline engine with the fuel efficiency, torque, and fast initial response of a diesel unit. No timeline was given for its arrival, but the fact that the company continues to talk about it is a good harbinger that it will eventually appear.

As for existing powerplants, the Skyactiv-G unit found in the 2019 CX-3 now makes 148 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque thanks to a retuning that’s said to also improve fuel efficiency and reduce internal friction. Mild tweaks by way of thicker door panels and headliner, plus the never-ending quest to tighten up door seams, should reduce cabin din by a couple of decibels.

Mazda is a great company that arguably hawks some of the best machines in the segments in which it competes. Its promise of “ a BIG reveal in the BIG apple” fell a bit short on the product but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Mazda cars remain sharp lookers that are hugely entertaining to drive.

Just go lighter on the marketing hyperbole and heavier on product at the next New York show, please.

[Images: Mazda]

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2 of 26 comments
  • Fred0804 Fred0804 on Mar 30, 2018

    The top picture in the article is the 2019 Mazda 3. It's going to be outstanding visually and mechanically.

  • Voyager Voyager on Mar 30, 2018

    Always thought that Marchionne should have Alfa Romeo team up with Mazda for the FWD cars and with Maserati as far as the RWD cars concerned. The MX-5 Miata could have been a new Spider Duetto instead of a Fiat 124 rehash nobody was waiting for.

  • 2ACL What tickles me is that the Bronco looks the business with virtually none of the black plastic cladding many less capable crossovers use.
  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.