Digital MarketingStrategiesSXSW 2015: Mazda Focuses on Community to Generate Brand Awareness

SXSW 2015: Mazda Focuses on Community to Generate Brand Awareness

Mazda's vice president of marketing, Russell Wager, sat down with ClickZ at South by Southwest to talk about how the car brand focuses on its close-knit community of fans to create word-of-mouth buzz.

Mazda has recently partnered with Microsoft Xbox to allow gamers to design their own version of the Mazda Miata. 

Mazda and Xbox created a platform based on the Xbox game Forza Horizon 2 that allowed gamers to create a brand-new look for the 1994 MX-5 Miata used in the game. More than 500 gamers spent six to seven hours apiece designing their perfect car, and users voted on the finalists. After whittling the entries down to two finalists, on March 15 at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Mazda will announce the winner of the contest. Gamers will then be able to choose the winning car in the game.

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The winning user design. 

Russell Wager, vice president of marketing for Mazda, told ClickZ that the contest both allows Mazda to interact with fans of the brand and gives the company a wealth of consumer insight. “We use the game to see which cars gamers are using and which colors they’re choosing.” Those insights can have real-world applications for product design. “It’s kind of our own little laboratory,” Wager said. 

Interacting with gamers also helps the company generate excitement over the brand without trying to force a conversation with consumers. “If players think about the car in the game, they’re more engaged with the brand. Gaming fosters community.” 

Mazda tries to remain respectful of its gamer fans and never gives a call to action for tweets and shares. “We’re not asking them to do anything. People talk naturally when we make their experiences enjoyable.” 

Mazda’s other SXSW Interactive exhibits include a partnership with tech start-up Mogee, which turns everyday objects into musical instruments. The Mazda/Mogee exhibit turns the Mazda 3 into a connected recording studio. Users can tap the car anywhere to create customized songs, and those songs are recorded onsite and immediately sharable. 

“We’re letting fans create their own content,” Wager said. “Each person that’s here [at South by Southwest] represents thousands that aren’t. Fans push their content out themselves, and a lot of this content will be shared for months.”

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