Mazda mash-up mixes viral advergame joyride with indie band battle

Mazda's Campus contest test drives social media, user-generated content and online innovation to reach the university and college crowd.

Mazda’s Campus Joyride contest microsite ( is giving the college and university crowd the chance to win a new car by getting behind the wheel and clicking. lets students virtually drive around tracks at three fictional universities and count the number of Mazdas spotted in order to earn a contest ballot. A viral twist of sending the game to friends gets more students into the draw that will ultimately award a 2007 Mazda3 Sport.

Designed by Ottawa-based Fuel Industries for Mazda and the brand’s Canadian AOR, Doner, the campaign will run until May 1 – supported by a print buy in campus newspapers and interactive video kiosks at educational facilities. A blog relations effort pushing the campaign’s viral element will begin next week.

Before hitting the virtual track, the user is told to click on a car radio to select one of five songs as the soundtrack for his or her joyride. This feature is the result of a pre-game virtual battle of the bands contest meant to create momentum and generate buzz for the game.

The Mazda ‘Rockin’ Roll Call’ invited university and college bands to submit their tunes and get fans to vote for the top 25. From that list, judges chose the five winning songs for the advergame’s soundtrack. Fuel Industries’ PR manager Ryan Anderson says the battle drew 55 tracks from bands and about 24,000 eligible votes. The vote numbers actually shot as high as 500,000, but multiple votes from a single computer (200,000 in one case) were discounted.

The campaign also highlights Mazda’s grad program, which gives Canadian university and college graduates $1,000 off a down payment for a new car if they finish school between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2007.