Mazda is sponsoring a national tour of crooner Mayer Hawthorne to support its new Mazda2 compact car. The effort is via L.A.-based social media marketing firm Rebel Industries, which has been handling social media efforts for the Irvine, Calif.-based automaker for the past several months.
Mazda's partnership of Hawthorne's 32-city tour involves daily blog posts and downloadable content, including the previously unreleased track "No Strings." There is also a Web site, Mazda2musictour.com, that has information about the tour as well as an advertisement featuring Hawthorne in which everywhere he turns he sees people who look just like him. The video has Mazda branding and vehicles, and a convenience store where a Hawthorne doppelganger drinks a Mazda energy drink from a cooler with Mazda signage.
The Irvine, Calif.-based automaker will also sponsor a series of "meet and greet" events with Hawthorne surrounding the tour dates through an online sweepstakes on the Mazda2 Presents Mayer Hawthorne Web site. Mazda will have branded VIP events, and Facebook and FourSquare promotions will offer Mazda's 2011 Mazda2 as grand prize.
Jim Jordan, Mazda2 marketing manager, says the vehicle opens up a new category for Mazda, which has not had a subcompact car. "We haven't been in the d-class segment before. It's not a super high-volume car for us, so the challenge is how do you launch a car without a huge budget in a segment targeting a younger consumer who is hard to reach with traditional media and who consumes media on their own terms?"
Mazda looked to gaming and music as key passion points, but Mazda's relatively modest budget eliminated huge acts. "And we wanted someone who fit the Mazda brand," says Jordan. "Mazda is very well regarded in the industry and a media favorite, with a footprint that's bigger in, say, the auto journalist world than with the general consumer. So we thought we should find an emerging artist who has lots of respect in the musical community and is about to make it big and let him tell Mazda's story at the same time he's telling his story."
To reach a younger audience, the automaker launched the Mazda2 during the summer with a Facebook program called DriverVille, part of an integrated effort including TV and print ads. Jordan says Mazda will be low-key with Hawthorne's tour. "We'll have a vehicle at concerts and photo booths where you can upload a photograph of yourself. But it's a fine line. We are trying to give people opportunities to be exposed to Mazda, but not too overtly."