Mazda Heroes: Honoring the Human Spirit

2020 was meant to be a year of celebration for Mazda as it marked its 100th anniversary. When the spread of COVID-19 became a global pandemic, it wasn’t the first time that Mazda had to rely on its ingenuity and resilience—forged through its Hiroshima heritage— to overcome an unprecedented disaster. Mazda quickly pivoted from celebrating its own accomplishments, to leaning into core values like Omotenashi, which means putting your needs before mine, to uplift and help its communities.   

In April, a cross-functional team developed the Essential Car Care (ECC) program that activated dealers across the nation to reward healthcare heroes. Mazda provided oil changes and enhanced cleaning services to healthcare workers, regardless of the make and model of their vehicle. It was consciously designed to focus on dealers as a place of support, not sales. In total, more than 479 dealers participated and over 50,500 oil changes were completed. Through ECC, dealers heard firsthand stories of heroism and selflessness from within their communities. This inspired Mazda to lean further into its values to create the Mazda Heroes program, an initiative to honor 50 people who, in the face of adversity, dedicated themselves to uplifting their communities with a special piece of Mazda’s history, a MX-5 Miata 100th Anniversary Special Edition.

 It was the combination of Mazda’s company values and its unique brand heritage of trying to make things better that drove the campaign strategy.  

The program was developed as an earned-focused effort with integration between the brand’s communications, digital, social, experiential, and regional retail teams activated across two phases. For  Phase 1 the cross-functional team was charged with amplifying the program to drive mass awareness around the nomination period in October. The integrated team collaborated on a media integration with Good Morning America, for two segments during the respective phases to reach millions of viewers. Following its successful launch onGood Morning America, the team secured national and local earned coverage includingUSA Today,Business Insider,Miami Herald,Houston Chronicle, among others, to drive awareness and encourage story submissions between Oct. 5 and Oct 25. 

Amplifying awareness around the Heroes was generated through a communications ecosystem of digital content and earned media coverage across national, local, lifestyle and automotive media. Both centered around rich storytelling of the uplifting efforts of the winners, the impact they had on their community and how they were being recognized by Mazda for their efforts to give back. The assets became a powerful tool, allowing media to share the emotional stories of hometown heroes, and resulting in hundreds of placements. The content became a powerful tool with media that were under resourced and, due to the pandemic, unable to cover anything outside of their studios.  

In total H+K secured 575 earned media placements spanning national, local and automotive media, more than 1,600,000,000 impressions, 100% of coverage was positive to neutral. On social, 100% of conversation was positive, organic social reach of 1.1M with 139,000 engagements, and 912,000 unique “opens” across four newsletters.  

While the sheer volume of placements was a significant achievement, the quality of coverage was equally impressive. Nearly every placement prominently included the program’s key messages and emphasized our core values: Challenger spirit, ingenious solutions, commitment to community and Omotenashi. Beyond all the communications success, we truly felt honored to present 50 selfless Americans with a very personal thank you.  

Sector: Mobility + Transportation
Office: Washington, D.C., Costa Mesa