Mazda Motor Corp. is taking its U.S. 'zoom-zoom' brand strategy worldwide. But that's more difficult than it sounds.
The company must deal with cultural differences and its existing brand images in more than 130 countries. For example, in Japan, Mazda has a broader image than in the United States, where it is thought of mainly for the Miata and sports cars.
But the campaign is a hit in the United States, and the company is eager to create a distinct global brand identity.
'Zoom-zoom' is 'vroum-vroum' in Europe and 'waku waku' in Japan. It's the message behind that - the youthful 'Emotion of motion' - that will make the strategy work, said David Thomas, Mazda's senior managing director in charge of marketing, sales and customer service.
'The campaign appeals to customers that never really lost that spark, the love for driving,' he said. 'The executions in major markets around the world will get more consistent as we progress through the year. By the end of the year, we'll have a very consistent brand strategy.'
Mazda North American Operations launched the Tribute sport-utility with the brand campaign last June in the United States. Mazda's U.S. advertising agency, Doner, in Newport Beach, Calif., created 'zoom-zoom.'
Mazda considers the campaign a success. Its research indicates brand awareness in the United States is the highest it has been in six or seven years, said Tim Blett, president of Doner Automotive.
Mazda's U.S. sales are up 24.9 percent for the first two months of this year, compared with the same period last year. But that is due to the Tribute, which sold 9,025 units for the first two months of this year. Without the sport-utility, Mazda sales would have been down 817 units for the first two months.
The campaign has been taken to Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, Japan and Europe. In Europe, for example, 'Emotion of motion' is replaced by 'Why should kids have all the fun?' In Japan, it's expressed by a tag line that means 'New ideas that stir the emotions,' Thomas said.
South Africa likely will be next, Thomas said.
Taiwan and Hong Kong also are asking for the campaign, Blett said.
Doner is not a global ad agency but is shepherding the execution of the brand message in each country.
The same creative content will not appear in every country because the campaign must be localized to work, Blett said. That includes the catchy 'zoom, zoom, zoom' music by the Brazilian group Serapis Bay.
'The music seems to transcend cultures and languages, so where broadcast is used, we might use it,' Blett said.
Micah Kanters, the 11-year-old boy in a suit who turns to the camera to say 'zoom-zoom,' is less likely to star in other countries, Blett said. 'That's a local creative call, but having somebody playing his role, we'll encourage them to do.'