Being a former Mazda driver and regular blogger, I was invited by Mazda to attend the Los Angeles Auto Show at the LA Convention Center yesterday morning.
Those of you who know me know that it’s certainly not fair to describe me as a “car guy.” I understand how they work enough to get me from here to there, and occasionally, if the mood strikes me and the planets are aligned, I can remember to check the oil or tire pressure. But, of course, being a resident of LA I am destined to drive automobiles until the very end of time. Maybe longer.
Despite my 4-wheeled ennui and general lack of car knowledge, I do have a few things that qualified me for this assignment. I have had a driver’s license since I was fourteen (thanks, South Dakota), so I know what a good car feels like. Also, between my wife and I, we’ve owned or leased ten cars in the last ten years (for real–and we don’t wreck them). In addition, if you can “get” me, I am an intensely brand-loyal individual (talk to me about Apple sometime) who’s had a pretty great experience with a particular automobile.
I can tell you firsthand that the Mazda3 is a damn fine car.
We owned one from 2005-2008, and I loved that zippy little silver bullet. Almost got another one when the lease ran out, but curiosity about the new Focus with SYNC (and a better price from Ford) lured us away.
So, all to say, I was excited to be part of the group at the LA Auto Show for the unveiling of Mazda’s newest addition, the Mazda2. This new model is going to fit in what the auto industry calls the B-car segment, meaning the class smaller (and hopefully cheaper) than the Mazda3.
I don’t have a lot to say about the car itself just yet. The exterior looks great, as you can see above and below, but I’ll reserve most of my thoughts until after I drive one next summer.
What I will say, though, is that I walked out very impressed with Mazda. Though they are not the first company to attempt to include social media efforts into their marketing plans, I was very encouraged by their ideas and what they are doing. They treated us “bloggers” like regular press media, maybe even better. They brought out a myriad of team leaders who worked on the development of the Mazda2 and let them educate us as to why this is a great car (and I believe it will be). They gave us an up-front viewing of the unveiling. They gave us Flip cameras to encourage us to take videos, and then they bought us a nice lunch and kindly listened to our thoughts and opinions.
Most of all, though, I was impressed with Mazda’s people. Every Mazda person I met (or that presented) was noticeably passionate about the company, about cars, and about their specific job. They each had a good sense about the brand, would throw the catch phrase “Zoom-Zoom” into conversations to the point where it’s just shy of annoying, and really seemed to believe in what they are doing.
Having the right people in the right jobs is always what begins an organization’s upward spiral to greater success. From what I saw yesterday — if they can keep it up — it’s time to buy some Mazda stock.
P.S. Here’s a quick video of the unveiling (from my new Flip)!