LOS ANGELES -- The near-term key for automotive marketers is securing a foothold in new digital mediums, like smart phones and tablet computers, that are supplanting traditional ones like newspapers and radio, Mazda's North American marketing boss said Tuesday.
Don Romano, chief marketing officer for Mazda North America, says traditional advertising mediums are not going to be killed by digital technologies.
Instead, newspapers, radio and magazines are simply moving from paper to digital devices, and that's where brands need to be.
Romano made his remarks at the Automotive News Marketing Seminar held Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Romano described the way consumers digest mass information today as "media chaos" when compared to the relatively captive audiences of just a decade ago.
"The key is to seamlessly integrate your marketing message through all points of contact," Romano said.
For Mazda, that means a big focus of its marketing and advertising efforts will place the automaker's message on traditional mediums that are being replicated by mobile devices, Romano said.
Mobile technologies are already factoring into marketing plans for other automakers.
Tony DiSalle, vice president of U.S. marketing for Buick, says the brand targeted mobile devices when it launched the Regal sedan.
Ads were placed on The Wall Street Journal's application for the iPad, the Amazon Kindle electronic reader and the Verizon Wireless version of the Apple iPhone when it was released earlier this year, DiSalle said.
DiSalle said traditional media is not dead in Buick's case. The brand's primary ad platform is the NCAA. Buick ads will continue to feature prominently in televised coverage of events such as the NCAA Men's basketball tournament and the NCAA's Frozen Four hockey tournament, he said.
Social media's reach
The 500 million active users on Facebook also make the social networking website a prime location for automotive marketing opportunities, executives said.
Bill Fay, group vice president of Toyota marketing, highlighted three Facebook-based marketing campaigns that the automaker deployed following its recall crisis last year.
Targeting NASCAR fans, Toyota ran a campaign called "Sponsafier," where Facebook users could submit paintjob designs for a Toyota race car. Toyota received 170,000 design submissions, which subsequently received1.8 million votes on the website.
Another campaign was timed to the addition of compact, wagon and plug-in hybrid versions of Toyota's Prius hybrid. The "Prius Plural" campaign asked Facebook users to vote on how the company should refer to more than one Prius. It generated 1.8 million votes.
Jeff Conrad, vice president of American Honda's Acura division, said the brand crafted a social media component to its product placement deal with comic book publisher Marvel to promote Acura's role in the new move "Thor."
Kia's media buying agency, Initiative+, used Twitter and television to make the most out of one of the biggest automotive product placement coups of the year – when Blake Griffin, power forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, slammed home a two-handed dunk after jumping over a Kia Optima to win the Slam Dunk Competition during the NBA's recent all-star break.
Fred Sattler, managing director of Initiaitive+, says the agency struck deals with other NBA stars like Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers forward Lamar Odom and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Nate Robinson to use the hashtag "#OptimaJam" when they used Twitter to talk about Griffin's dunk. A "hashtag" is a word or phrase preceded by the "#" to link Twitter posts about the same subject.
Sattler also noted that Kia's creative agency, David and Goliath, had a TV spot using Griffin's dunk on the air "within days."
But social media also presents challenges for automakers.
"Can we emotionally 'brand' through it? Can we deliver emotional content through it?" Romano said.
It's important to attempt to do so, because in essence, social media is, as Romano told the group, a "technology-enabled word of mouth medium."