The company -- which this year is launching its most important vehicle to date in the U.S., the mid-sized sedan Kizashi, as well as a new version of its SX4 compact called SX4 SportBack -- hopes to get interest simmering on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
The Brea, Calif.-based company, which unveiled a customized version of the car at the Chicago Auto Show this week, timed the launches of its Twitter (@SuzukiAuto), Facebook (www.Facebook.com/SuzukiAuto) and YouTube (www.YouTube.com/SuzukiAuto) sites with the show, where it unveiled a race-themed customized version of Kizashi, which it is pitching as a performance sedan. Suzuki is running a promotion that offers $100 to consumers who, after test-driving the car, opt for Acura TSX or Audi A4.
Brown says initially there will be a lot of information on the Suzuki social channels about "Ultimate Wave Tahiti," a Suzuki-sponsored surfing adventure film featuring Suzuki vehicles and products. "It gives us an easy opportunity to approach our audience, share images and video," he says. "But it is also a good forum for feedback because, unlike traditional advertising, it's a dialogue. It's a deeper brand interaction than a website alone and on the PR side a great way to push information to both traditional journalists and to online influencers."
Suzuki is running print ads now for Kizashi and in some markets will launch TV mid-month continuing until the April launch of the car, per Brown. "In a few markets there will also be outdoor and radio complementing TV, and online, print and now social; so we may not be in the Super Bowl but we will be very visible," he says.
Brown adds that the media focus will be digital this year. "It will be up dramatically. But we will also be doing TV, radio, outdoor in key markets, which are new media for us; we haven't done a lot of that in the past few years." He says the key markets where the marketing efforts are focused include the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain region, the Northeast and Southeast.
"I would call it our most significant launch, and certainly our biggest departure from what we are best known for, since it's a bigger car, and competes in a hotly contested category," says Brown.