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. pic.twitter.com/VTJsolM2gp
— 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.
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