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Mazda Unlocks Customer Engagement with the Keys of Passion


Passion is the key that unlocks the doors of customer engagement at Mazda. In fact, marketers say it’s passion that’s revving up the car company’s current campaign to promote the 2016 MX-5 Miata­—Mazda’s popular convertible sports car and a perennial favorite with club racers.

Members of the team at Mazda say they knew that the intense fervor of sports-car lovers would make a great foundation for the MX-5’s promotional campaign. But marketers say they needed to figure out how to translate that ardor into interaction, awareness, and, eventually, sales at Mazda. The solution, they say, is to meet and engage shoppers not in the showroom, but in their homes.

“What we really try to focus on is how we engage. We try to do this organically so that it’s in a natural environment,” says Rob Milne, director of marketing for Mazda North American Operations. “If we’re able to engage people in their homes, then hopefully you’ll be doing what you normally do every day and then realize that Mazda’s kind of a part of it.”

So currently, Mazda is teamed up with Xbox and, for the second year in a row, the two companies have crafted an interactive campaign that targets two groups: gamers and car lovers—the perfect combination for a passionate base. Marketers have created the Mazda MX-5 Livery Design Contest, which players can find only in Xbox’s Forza Horizon 2—an open-world, motorsports video game developed for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

From now through January 4, Forza Horizon 2 players can go into the game’s Mazda-branded hub, enter the design contest, and create unique paint jobs for a 1994 MX-5 Miata—a car that’s available in the game. After January 4, gamers will then vote for their favorite paint designs—each personally created by consumers. Mazda will award two finalists a trip to SXSW in March for a design showdown; one winner will walk away with prizes worth about $4,000. As for everyone else, Mazda will gift the winning design to all Xbox One and Xbox 360 players.


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All players have the chance to engage with Mazda from the beginning of the promotional campaign and even well after it ends. It’s a move that Milne says taps into true enthusiasts for the brand. “We find these ways to provide customers that opportunity to not just see a banner ad, but to truly interact with that brand,” Milne continues. “When you manage to do this you’re getting a deeper story that reverberates with the consumer.” 

Milne says that marketers at Mazda are engaging consumers and promoting the 2016 MX-5 by tapping into their DNA, which is made of a love for driving, dynamics, digital, and ingenuity. He says for Mazda enthusiasts, this contest is a form of self-expression, individuality, and motivation—all passion points that marketers across industries can use to boost awareness and loyalty for a brand. It’s certainly a strategy that marketers should consider as they craft their campaigns for 2015.

“It’s important to create something that’s not disruptive. We’re really looking to engage consumers. This contest provides a portal to do just that, without it being forced,” Milne concludes. “Organically, we’re prompting engagement with the Mazda brand, boosting awareness of the product, and hopefully creating advocates. We’re here for our current and future customers. We’re always here to interact.”

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