American Suzuki Motor Corp. will pit the performance of its 2011 Kizashi Sport sedan against the Audi A4, Mercedes C300 and Volvo S40 in an ad blitz to launch on Christmas Day.
Performance tests between the Kizashi and the other vehicles shown in 15-second and 30 second television ads will be the heart of the campaign -- called Kizashi Kicks.
The campaign will be the largest national advertising presence Suzuki has had in years, said Steve Younan, Suzuki's director of marketing, product planning and sales training.
The goal of the campaign is to boost consumer awareness of Suzuki by touting the Kizashi. Demand for the sports sedan has been disappointing since its launch earlier this year. In the U.S., Kizashi sales have totaled 5,269 units through November this year.
“The Kizashi we developed here was designed to appeal to buyers who appreciate and desire to own entry level sport sedans … and to do so at a price that's within reach of most buyers,” Younan said. “To get that story out has been the real challenge.”
The campaign will roll out in 20 markets in Suzuki's southern region on Dec. 25. The ads will begin airing in east and west coast markets in January. Suzuki bought airtime during regular-season NFL games, the NFL's AFC and NFC Championship games, the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament, the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards.
Weekly series like “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol,” “Survivor” and other network shows will also carry the ads.
The campaign also has an integrated digital component with a dedicated Web site -- www.kizashikicks.com -- with videos, comparison test summaries, links to Suzuki's corporate Web site and other information about the Kizashi.
The campaign is scheduled to run through at least the end of March, Younan said.
Suzuki has struggled since posting record U.S. sales of 101,884 vehicles in 2007. Sales fell to 38,689 in 2009 and demand is down another 42 percent this year.
Younan said the brand faces challenges to gain traction in the United States. A key objective of the campaign is to build awareness of the brand rather than one designed to drive shoppers to the showroom by touting deals -- a tactic often used by the Japanese automaker in the past.
“A brand like ours is not well known right now, and we're still in an infancy stage in many ways in terms of brand awareness, but that's what the idea of the campaign is,” Younan said.