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#2. Mazda Motors UK Women Drivers/Parking Video

MarketingSherpa Summary:
Campaigns that go outrageously viral all tap into the deepest levels of the human zeitgeist. In this case, who sucks more at parking - men or women? (Hint: The campaign was aimed at women.) We also love this campaign because it drove far more than 4.2 million video views -- Mazda directly measured resulting car sales. Key: Viral success is not just about making you famous online, it's about the bottom line.

Agency - Digital Media Communications
Client/company - Mazda Motors UK
Brand campaign was conducted for - Mazda2
Launch date of campaign - May 2003
Target audience/demographic - Female car buyers

Campaign Goal:
Mazda first tested the power of online viral marketing in 2002 with the trial Mazda6 pre-launch campaign, to great success. Mazda learned that successful online viral marketing delivers benefits more cost-effectively than traditional methods. They also realised that online viral marketing would work even better if it was integrated strategically within the wider brand marketing mix. So they included online viral and buzz marketing activity in their 2003 European launch for the new Mazda2. The viral campaign pre-launched all mainstream marketing activity, aiming to increase brand awareness and kick start demand for the new Mazda2.

From lessons learnt in 2002 and through specialist advice from DMC, Mazda's viral marketing approach developed to include buzz generation activity and a launch strategy that made the 2003 Mazda2 viral campaign the exclusive pre-launch marketing activity for the new car. The campaign featured specially commissioned viral film material - a clip called 'Women Drivers'/'Parking' that takes an amusing look at one woman's answer to 'white van man' syndrome when parking a Mazda2. It was careful not to alienate men, and it struck a major chord with online users - both male and female - sparking debate on weblogs and forums about male and female parking capabilities. It also tapped into the topical male v female driving skills theme that was featuring highly in other media at launch time e.g. Celebrity Driving School and Girls v Boys TV programmes.

The endframe of the clip drove viewers to relevant Mazda2 web pages where they could take a virtual tour through the car, try out different colour schemes, request a test drive, order brochures and more. Viral-specific URLs were assigned to the campaign (clip views and hotlinks, and buzz news linking) and were tracked by DMC, and Mazda's own landing site stats determined further quantifiable results. Qualitative results came from online research on blogs, forums, etc.

Seed Strategy:
Mazda used a 'web only' creative strategy to make the campaign exclusive. The campaign was seeded as editorial content via DMC's worldwide online influencer network of entertainment sites, as well as being featured on and other sites with a high f emale user base.

Buzz Generated:
Yes, the campaign was picked up on blogs all over the world, including the Netherlands, Romania, the US and Spain. Here's an example with 7 pages of user comments: Reflecting how successful viral campaigns get 'out of the Internet and into the pub', a reactive approach from the UK's national Independent newspaper resulted in an offline editorial feature on June 2, 2003. Online, the viral campaign reached #1 in the Lycos UK Viral Chart Top 10, as voted by users, and stayed there for 3 weeks.

Specific (Goal-Related) Campaign Results:
The campaign was named Campaign magazine's 'Viral Campaign of the Year 2003' in the UK and Germany. Wider interest in the campaign resulted in extended Mazda usage e.g. as Czech cinema ad, as Slovak TV ad, on Dutch TV show, in Portuguese dealerships & events. At last reporting point in December 2004, the campaign had generated: - 7.6m+ brand exposure - 4.2m+ calculable clip views - 198,000+ links to Mazda's site - Contributed to car sales (stats are confidential) Viral uptake was steady for a couple of weeks after launch, then the first huge user-driven surge in clip views occurred between weeks 3 and 4. It has continued exponentially since then - there were 430,000 calculable clip views in the 2 months prior to the December 2004 reporting point alone. Now, nearly two years after launch, the campaign continues to generate brand awareness, clip views and hotlinks - and those are only the results we are able to track.

Biggest Learning:
The avid interest in the male v female driving skills debate was much bigger than anticipated. It proved that entertainment-based material that taps into a universally accessible theme or topical zeitgeist will travel more widely, be talked about more and for longer than material that simply provides a one-off laugh, for example. This in turn means that the former kind of material will help provide ongoing brand benefits - the objective of any viral campaign should not just be to 'go viral' or 'generate a buzz', but to deliver ongoing, measurable brand benefits. The online viral and buzz marketing approach spearheaded by Mazda UK in 2002-2003 has now become an integrated part of the overall strategic marketing mix in Mazda UK, Europe and Australasia. From user demand, a dedicated entertainment archive section has been added to the Mazda site: Like PR, viral marketing is a process, not an event; refinement of the approach continues.

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