Hey! Look! It’s our first article about Mazda!
Now, generally, Mazda has been very clean in its marketing, advertising its main size, MazdaUSA.com, which is totally fine.
But sometimes, their advertising department (or agency) tried something a little different. Today we’ll look at three site sections that promoted some of Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom performance.
First up is this garishly orange ad from 2002 for the Mazda Protegé, the predecessor to the Mazda3:
Ooof… that’s a lot of orange! Maybe it was supposed to make the car look hot? I don’t know.
At the end of all the text on the right we get this little nugget:
For those who didn’t know, Mazdaspeed was a brand attached to the performance versions of the various Mazda models. It appears that branding is pretty much dead at the moment, but back in 2002 when this ad appeared, it was a tidy marketing term to fit in with the “Zoom-Zoom” image Mazda wanted to portray.
So if Mazdaspeed is gone, what happened to www.mazdausa.com/mazdaspeed?
Yeah, that’s not good.
These days, www.mazdausa.com/mazdaspeed takes you to Mazda’s default page-not-found message.
As far as page-not-found pages go, this one is fine. It has links to other relevant content. But it’s disappointing to see that Mazda has let the brand completely die off.
Okay, let’s move on to something a little more generic.
I love how this ad has virtually the same layout as the Protegé ad above: A sports car turning hard through a corner, facing left, with bullet points on the right. Consistency is a good thing.
Of course, this ad features the RX-8 with it’s unconventional rotary engine (instead of a piston-style engine). Good for Mazda for being different.
Another difference from the Protegé ad is the URL referenced at the bottom of all that tiny print:
Instead of promoting something specific, like Mazdaspeed, this one is far more general (and hopefully long-lasting) at www.MazdaUSA.com/performance.
Surely “performance” is still an important part of the Mazda DNA, yes? Surely this tidy site section would still live on today, yes?
It, too, is dead.
Word on the street is that Mazda is trying to move more upscale. But that doesn’t mean it should necessarily let go of it’s “Zoom-Zoom” image. And, like other brands, Mazda keeps an active page online about it’s performance cred. This smells a bit like a missed opportunity to me.
That brings us to the third and final ad in this trio:
This ad’s a little newer as it appeared in a December 2011 magazine as a “Special Advertisement.” The idea of these kinds of ads is that they appear to be content generated by the magazine when, of course, it’s actually a paid advertisement. It’s the magazine equivalent of a Native Ad on a website.
As for the ad itself, is anybody really reading all of that text? It’s a little verbose, but I suppose that’s part of what makes it look like an article written for a magazine.
If you read all that text, you’ll find out about how Mazda increased the compression ratio, modified the fuel delivery and enhanced the structure of the car (presumably the CX-5 in the picture) to deliver more power more efficiently and with a more comfortable and responsive ride. All these improvements fall under the brand SKYACTIV, which I think is supposed to impart visions of clean air and high performance.
If you read all that text, you’ll also find a couple of quirky layout choices. For example, take this snippet from near the top of the third column:
I get that you sometimes need to hyphenate words in a block of text to prevent one line from being overly short or long. But there’s plenty of room on this line to tack the “ty” to the end of agility. My best guess is that they changed the typeface at some point and while, yes, under the original typeface, the word needed to be hyphenated, the updated font didn’t need it?
We see the same problem here:
I actually measured this one by counting the pixels in PhotoShop and, yes, there’s plenty of room to spell out the full word.
But my favorite oversight in the text is this:
I’m pretty sure they meant to say the body is 30 percent more rigid, meaning stiff and unbendable. But maybe they did, indeed, add 30 percent more creases to the sheet metal to give it more ridges to make it more ridged.
I’m certainly not infallible when it comes to typos and odd text. But I’m also just one guy, not a multinational company with deep marketing pockets and many layers of approval.
Odd text aside, what we came here for today is the website mentioned in this ad:
Down in the very bottom right-hand corner, Mazda suggests we could learn more about the enhancements under SKYACTIV by going to www.mazdausa.com/skyactiv.
These days, what happens if you try that?
Oh! Hey! Look at that! It still works!
Well, sort of. These days, www.mazdausa.com/skyactiv redirects to https://www.mazdausa.com/why-mazda/skyactiv. Maybe it always redirected there? Who knows. But at least it’s still a relevant site showing relevant content.
Out of curiosity, I also tried adding an e to the end of the URL as I imagine many people would not really notice that it’s missing. Typing SkyActive is a little more intuitive, but it’s not the brand.
I was delighted to see that, yes, www.mazdausa.com/skyactive also goes to the SKYACTIV page. That’s really great! Someone was thinking ahead there, knowing that people might misspell the brand. Good for Mazda!
I only wish their copy editing department was as thorough.