Adventures in Marketing: Mazda Wants You to Feel Alive

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
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.

  • Bd2 Other way around.Giorgetto Giugiaro penned the Pony Coupe during the early 1970s and later used its wedge shape as the basis for the M1 and then the DMC-12.The 3G Supra was just one of many Japanese coupes to adopt the wedge shape (actually was one of the later ones).The Mitsubishi Starion, Nissan 300ZX, etc.
  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old '56 Chevys eventually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.