Kawasaki Planting Marketing Seeds For Green '14
The motorcycle maker, which also makes and markets all-terrain vehicles and jet skis in the U.S., has made digital a core focus, too; this year, for example, Kawasaki launched a digital advertising and promotional program whose centerpiece was a partnership with American rock band Green Day (Kawasaki's brand color is bright green.)
And there's the little matter of the 30th anniversary of the nameplate for which Kawasaki is best-known: Ninja. The company actually started promoting the anniversary last fall with a Ninja parade up New York's Broadway to Times Square. There are other big plans for 2014, including boosting grassroots marketing in a big way, the most recent example being a Los Angeles launch event for its new 2014 Z1000 street bike.
“In December 1983, we introduced the first physical manifestation of Ninja, so all of this year and next we will be celebrating the brand with anniversary experiences and events,” says Chris Brull, Kawasaki's director of marketing. “And we are doing that on a global scale.” He adds that since getting people into motorcycling involves giving them a taste of the experience, these events will be critical.
The company will officially kick off the events next year -- carrying the Ninja “Forever Fearless” theme -- at Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Fla. “We will do a celebration there, along the lines of what we did with 100 riders on Broadway. There will be a lot of people showing off all their Ninjas.”
Similar events are planned for Europe, and Kawasaki will run advertising around the current lineup with special digital content on the nameplate’s history and inspiration, per Brull. “And we will reach out through our ‘Riders of Kawasaki’ clubs; the entire organization will be involved, including dealers.” He said there will be events nationwide at the retail level. “It's about selling units, but also celebrating the Ninja brand itself.”
Brull said the company needed new marketing talent to help keep up with media evolution and fragmentation. “We have to be proactive, less reactive and better at learning. BlackBerry became a relic because they got very safe and comfortable where they were, and they felt insulated; they had become risk-averse. In our business, we have to embrace risk.”
He says Kawasaki is aiming to be the industry leader in digital marketing communications. “And we also need to be out there with the riders, not only how they ride but how they live their lives,” he says. “You have to grow the market and that means you can’t just market to the same set of customers over and over again.”