Mazda's New 'Feel Alive' Campaign Has Us Worried About Brand's Upmarket Push

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
mazda s new feel alive campaign has us worried about brand s upmarket push

Mazda’s new “Feel Alive” advertising campaign places consumers as its focal point as the company tries to market itself as an upscale and hip, enthusiast-oriented brand. On Monday, Mazda launched the first commercial — a borderline insulting collection of superficial phrases intended to get you excited about the brand’s new identity.

The spot itself is about as boilerplate new-millennium luxury car commercial as it gets. It opens with a series of attractive actors, all on the cusp of an important moment, as the narrator offers bizarrely simplistic lines of encouragement like “do that thing” and “take that step.” Granted, auto ads became far getting far less chatty about specs during the 1990s. But, over the last decade, too many car spots seem to be copying perfume ads — strange adventures in abstraction that say nothing about the product and cost a fortune to produce.

Perfume ads have to be weird because it’s difficult to discuss the merits of purchasing a fancy smell through a visual medium. This doesn’t have to be the case with cars, as they have a clearly defined purpose and most automakers usually have an identity they can cling to without running down a list of specs. I’m thinking specifically of Honda’s “The Cog,” (from 2003) where a Rube Goldberg machine of auto parts rolls an Accord into frame as a voice says, “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”

The consumer target is enraptured by watching the contraption unfold for over a minute, before having a forced epiphany that banks entirely on Honda’s famous reliability. “Oh yeah,” they murmured from their collective sofas. “Honda builds a quality item. I should buy one.”

While Mazda does attempt to capture some of the Zoom-Zoom magic by asking drivers to “turn off the highway and soar,” it’s only a small portion of the spot. The brand is building some of the best-looking consumer goods on the market right now and probably could have showcased them a little more. Two-thirds of their first “Feel Alive” ad is devoted to people experiencing tender moments with no car in sight. Then you briefly see a branded race helmet, the Vision Coupe Concept, and updated Mazda 6 before more people swim with whales, play the drums, and perform other activities that have absolutely nothing to do with cars.

The commercial ends with people passionately spreading their arms in triumph, presumably because they own the right kind of automobile, and we close on a man standing next to a Mazda MX-5 RF. While not identical, the whole affair smacks of Cadillac’s “ Dare Greatly” campaign from 2015 — a series of ads widely criticized for being sanctimonious and unrelated to automobiles. Even General Motors acknowledged the ads left a lot to be desired and decided to focus more on the physical product for 2018.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Apr 05, 2018

    Feel Alive and drive something else kids, you can do better!

  • Kevin S Kevin S on Jul 29, 2018

    I'm a bit late to the party on this one but tonight I Googled "why is Mazda's feel alive commercial so crappy" and this is where I ended up. The best car commercials I ever saw where Chevrolet's Like a Rock campaign that ran for years. I miss those....

  • Analoggrotto By the time any of Hyundai's Japanese competitors were this size and age, they produced iconic vehicles which are now highly desirable and going for good money used. But Hyundai/Kia have nothing to this point that anyone will care about in the future. Those 20k over MSRP Tellurides? Worn out junk sitting at the used car lot, worn beyond their actual age. Hyundai/Kia has not had anything comparable to the significance of CVCC, 240Z, Supra, Celica, AE86, RX-(7), 2000GT, Skyline, GT-R, WRX, Evo, Preludio, CRX, Si, Land Cruiser, NSX etc. All of this in those years where Detroiters and Teutonic prejudiced elitists were openly bashing the Japanese with racist derogatory language. Tiger Woods running off the road in a Genesis didn't open up a moment, and the Genesis Sedan featuring in Inception didn't matter any more than the Lincoln MKS showing up for a moment in Dark Knight. Hyundai/Kia are too busy attempting to re-invent others' history for themselves. But hey, they have to start somewhere and the N74 is very cool looking. Hyundai/Kia's biggest fans are auto Journalists who for almost 2 decades have been hyping them up to deafening volumes contributing further distrust in any media.
  • 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)