ORLANDO -- After an erratic marketing effort in 2009, Mazda North American Operations promised its dealers that "we will not be dark" during 2010, or at least for the first six months.
Mike Morais, chairman of the Mazda National Dealer Advisory Council, said Mazda Motor Corp. has marked North America as its "primary target" in the coming year.
"We have a great story to tell, we have our best product ever, and they are going to give us the funds," said Morais, senior vice president of Open Road Auto Group in Edison, N.J.
Whereas Mazda often had no media presence in 2009, it will have consistent advertising on all types of media this year, as the company launches the new Mazda2 hatchback, redesigned Mazda5 compact minivan and updated CX-7 crossover.
Morais can't wait for the next Mazda5. The old model sold out during the cash-for-clunkers program. And with large minivans such as the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey faltering, he sees small families embracing a compact "space van" as an alternative.
Maria Pacifico-Shore, president of Pacifico Auto Group (Hyundai-Ford-Mazda) in Philadelphia, applauded Mazda for "not going the conventional way" with its marketing focus in 2010.
"They are committed to social media. They have the resources. They've hired a social media person who has a department under him," Pacifico-Shore said.
Jim O'Sullivan, CEO of Mazda North American Operations, is looking for a double-digit sales increase. Because Mazda is already strong in leasing, its designated lender, Chase Auto Finance, will launch a 0 percent, 60-month interest rate program on Mazda's volume models to support the increased ad spending.
O'Sullivan declined to give Mazda's marketing budget, or even the percentage increase over 2009. He said Mazda isn't just looking at marketing new-car launches. An upgraded certified used-vehicle program will be launched in the next few months and receive significant marketing attention as well.\