Mazda’s brand image is being reworked to still have Mazda's fun-to-drive image but be more upscale. This summer, Mazda has been busy switching ad agencies and revamping its US marketing staff. Don Romano, who became marketing boss at Mazda North American Operations last March, said that the brand doesn’t have the strength to support the rollout of Mazda's Sky direct-injection engines next year or its future design language.
Last August, the new styling was featured in the Shinari Concept introduced in Milan, Italy. Romano said that the Shinari, the low-slung, four-door concept car, gives a glimpse of what Mazda is “thinking as a brand.”
Romano also said that this car is designed to embody kodo, which is Japanese for "the soul of motion." Romano said that the brand will not be able to support the Shinari if it arrives at its showroom, more so if it features Sky technology.
This is actually the second time that Romano serves as the brand's top North American marketing chief. In 2000, he joined the company from Nissan North America and held the chief marketing job from 2004 until 2006. He then took over at Mazda Canada, where he continues as president. Romano said that his job is to “define the brand and put it in a new direction that is more fully embraced by [its] target audience.”
Since starting his second stint at the marketing job, Romano has been shaking things up. Last June, John Abel was named US director of marketing. He had previously functioned as general manager for global brand management at Mazda Motor Corp. in Hiroshima, Japan.
The reshuffling at Mazda has been ongoing since June. About half of Mazda's US marketing staff have changed jobs, changed duties or been replaced. This month, Mazda's new ad agency, WPP Group, of London, launched a team to manage the Mazda account, aptly named Team Mazda. This is patterned after WPP's Team Detroit, which handles Ford Motor Co.’s advertising. [via autonews - sub. required]