Mazda shifts gears with Driverville

A new Facebook-based game is supporting the launch of the new Mazda2.

Test-driving vehicles is taking on a whole new meaning these days.

In support of the launch of the 2011 Mazda2, a new five-door hatchback, Mazda North America has developed a new Farmville-style game on Facebook to promote the cars to ‘a new generation of digital natives,’ the release on the new game states.

Created by Michigan-based Doner and launched yesterday, the game is designed to embody the car’s tagline ‘Zoom Zoom Concentrated.’

The game is accessed through the Mazda Canada Facebook page, and allows the user to upload a photo for their avatar and customize their garage. The driver then has to complete a range of tasks to get their car and then try to earn ‘driverbucks’ to get accessories for it, navigating the world of Driverville in order to do so. Challenges include finding flags or accessories – such as a snowboard rack and snow tires – or participating in racing games at the ‘Mazda Raceway.’

Along the way, users can meet other Driverville avatars, and when one clicks on another ‘driver,’ they are taken to their Facebook page. Each time a task is completed, the game will ask if you want to update your status to reflect your achievement.

‘The Mazda2 campaign is consistent with our overall strategy to engage the younger buyer,’ Domenic Santucci, manager of communications, Mazda Canada, tells MiC.

‘One of the key challenges we face as marketers is that the Mazda product as an enthusiast- or driver-focused vehicle is very hard to convey – you can’t test drive the car when you’re sitting behind your computer, you have to get behind the wheel of the car to appreciate it. So more experiential and interactive programs like this convey product attributes through different methods to stimulate people to drive the car.’

The Mazda2 campaign and Driverville game are being supported with a 60-second cinema ad, which has been running since earlier this month, and a TV campaign will start in mid-August. The campaign will also include OOH and online, driving people to and to dealerships. Doner in Toronto handled the media planning, while Mindshare handled the TV buy. It is the last project for Doner as Mazda’s North American AOY, as the company recently named WPP agencies JWT and Mindshare as its AOY and MAOY, respectively.