Zoom-zoom? More like doom-doom...
Apr 18, 2012 / 5:00 am
Pity poor Mazda. It’s been a long time since they set the world on fire with such cutting-edge vehicular cool as the RX-7, or even their chirpy cute little ragtop Miata. These days Mazda looks more like a tired senior that can’t even be bothered to brand his North American auto fleet with anything more creative than sequential numbers. Except for the Tribute of course, ‘cause a car called a Tribute just screams automotive fun, don’t it? Seriously, when you name a car Tribute it should really come with a built-in urn for your great aunt Stacey’s ashes. Even the whole zoom-zoom thing. It used to be new but now it’s been going on for so long that it’s sounding less like any legitimate claim to speed and more like some old geezer’s battle cry as he aims his electric Scamp towards the mall to pick up stamps. But still Mazda tries. And you really can’t beat up on a guy for trying can you? Well.....
It would seem the whiz-bangs at Mazda marketing thought they had an absolute slam-dunk of an idea for their brand-new CX-5. You see the scoop on the CX-5, according to Mazda, is that they threw away the old model of building cars and started anew, creating something they call SkyActiv technology. In a nutshell, it’s supposed to give you more of everything you want in a car but harm the environment less when doing so. Now, I’m not gonna argue about it – others will I’m sure – but the plan was to link in their perceived eco-pusher to the new animated take on Dr. Seuss’ original green warrior, The Lorax. So far, so good, except for the whole backlash thing.
It was swift and solar-flare intense. First, various folks attacked Dr. Seuss (the estate of course, ‘cause the good Dr. is actually dead these days) for being a sellout. They railed on and on about how the Lorax would never endorse a car company ever, suggesting that he would instead champion buses, bikes and walking, and that if he ever did turn his attention to a car company at all it would not be to help them. Maybe stab them to death with shards from a Truffula stump? Could happen, right? Anyway, then they went after Mazda, savaging them for the “commercial pollution of a beloved children’s icon.” They screamed at Mazda for being evil, vile and even corrupt by co-opting a children’s story to sell something as crassly commercial as a.......... car....and for money no less! Oddly, no one drew similar attention to the crassly commercial publisher peddling re-issues of the original Lorax book or the crassly commercial movie studio making money off the filming of it but that’s being sort of nitpicky. So poor Mazda slinks away in abject shame – saddened that even with the wide success of the film, their planned association with it was now forever tainted.
So was this recent epic fail front of their mind as they served up their next, big commercial misfire? The press release says “In much the same way that science and technology re-imagined the life of Steve Austin in the hit 1970s television series "The Six Million Dollar Man," so has Mazda's SKYACTIV® Technology re-imagined what a crossover SUV can be with the release of the CX-5.” Steve Austin?! The Six Million Dollar Man? Are you freakin’ kidding me? This is sooo cool. How could they ever screw that up? Well......
Look, I don’t know if it’s because they just got burned on the Lorax thing or if they couldn’t actually secure the full rights or what the deal was but the ad bears just enough resemblance to the bionic man property to make you wonder why they didn’t actually try to get anything from it. They hint, and they tease and they allude to but they don’t actually deliver. Were they afraid of being accused of co-opting the memory of this childhood icon too? Who knows, but as it plays on the air, the ad just sucks.
And the main reason it sucks is because of not going for it. They had Better. Stronger. Faster. to work with. For a car company what could be better? Better. Stronger. Smarter? Yup, smarter – that’s what they went with. Where’s Oscar Goldman? Where’s an aging, but still tucked and polished, Lee Majors behind the wheel? Where’s the music? Getting the music ought to be possible. Not here. Seriously, they use a moronic muzak-y hack-job knock-off, sort-of-sound-alike version of the famous theme song. Why bother? Why are you doing this Mazda? Please stop. Please.
The ad should be cool but it’s not. It’s not neat. It’s not fun. Hell it’s not even funny. What else can I say? They blew it.
Once upon a time, Richard Anderson stepped into the studio and recorded the following words: "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better...stronger...faster." Mazda needs to get his agent on the phone stat and pray that he’ll feel as sorry for them as I do. Poor, poor Mazda.
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