Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
19 August 2020
Mazda ad with smart tagline for COVID-19 era – but little else
Yesterday, Stealing Share published a report on advertising during the COVID-19 era. Our conclusions were that brands were simply doing the expected, and we made recommendations on tone. But let’s take a look at the newest Mazda ad to demonstrate another facet of all marketing: The tagline.
The ad itself is nothing special. The Mazda ad certainly places itself in the current pandemic era, encouraging drivers to “rediscover the road.”
“The ‘Feel Alive’ tagline of the Mazda ad directly confronts our own feelings of cabin fever. And it’s emotional, and a little in your face. It’s not about rediscovering the road, which doesn’t mean a whole lot. But feeling alive is something we all miss.”
But like most marketing, the spot features product benefits that do little to create preference. Competitors certainly sport cars with superior driving dynamics and refined design. That’s the not the reason you buy a car. Those are just the rational reasons to explain your emotional choice.
Get out and drive is what you would expect a car manufacturer to say in these times. It doesn’t make you a Mazda loyalist.
But the spot ends with the tagline of “Feel Alive.” Now, that’s something that works.
Mazda ad unremarkable except for “Feel Alive”
A quick aside. There is a difference between a tagline and a brand themeline. A tagline is simply the theme of a campaign. A brand themeline states the position of the brand. Think “Just Do It” for Nike.
Many brands forgo a brand themeline, and it’s a mistake. Regardless, writing a tagline or a brand themeline is an art form. One that must take into account the most single persuasive thing you can say to prompt a change in the target audience (choosing you instead of what they have been doing.)
The “Feel Alive” tagline of the Mazda ad directly confronts our own feelings of cabin fever. And it’s emotional, and a little in your face. It’s not about rediscovering the road, which doesn’t mean a whole lot. But feeling alive is something we all miss.
Most importantly, the tagline aligns itself with a belief, or a precept. In brand research, we test precepts to find the most intensive emotion in the market at that time, and in context. If the Mazda ad was built on an actual precept from research, it would be something like “I believe I don’t feel much alive anymore” or something of that sort. (Testing precepts is an art form too.)
Marketers, however, too often use a meaningful line like that as a throwaway. The Mazda ad isn’t much different because I’m sure the brand will replace it with something new shortly.
But, as we said in yesterday’s report, the way to market during COVID-19 is the same as you should always do it. By being emotionally important to your target audience. And not just doing the expected.
“Feel Alive” does that, even if the rest of the Mazda ad doesn’t.
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