When PDI was tapped to concept, design and launch Mazda’s 2015 core model consumer tour, the in-house design team thought outside the box, literally.
PDI developed the Mazda Open Road Tour with traveling, custom-designed exhibit cubes, called Mazda KODO cubes, to meet Mazda’s request for a nimble, cost-conscious, brand-forward consumer road tour that showcased the Mazda3 (four- and five-door), Mazda6 and CX-5.
The Mazda KODO cubes – much like small trailers with fully designed exhibit space tucked inside – not only safely and easily transported the tour’s infrastructure from city to city, but once assembled and online, the cubes delivered the consistent high-level brand impact the company insisted on.
And, as an added bonus, three of Mazda’s CX-5 tour vehicles towed the cubes to each of the tour’s 15 cites and 45 events. This allowed the tour to be nimble and efficient, while eliminating the need for additional resources, including costly semi-trucks to transport the tour exhibits and related equipment.
“Mazda really liked the modularity of our concept and how quickly we could get the tour on the road,” says Executive Creative Director, Ariella Levitan. “This was a streamlined approach for time and cost considerations while providing a high bar of design.”
Levitan led the creative development of the Mazda Open Road Tour. The team completed the project in only five weeks.
“Typically, we have months to develop ideas and concepts, but Mazda wanted to begin the tour as soon as possible,” says Levitan. “Working within their timeframe, we’re pleased and excited about our finished product.”
But it wasn’t just the timeliness of PDI’s concept that Mazda liked. They also connected with PDI’s overall design and style, including the exhibit space, where consumers spent time immersed in the automaker’s brand.
PDI’s design allowed for a maximum brand impact through hospitality and comfort areas that encouraged guests to linger. This intentional design set the stage for PDI’s seasoned team of product specialists, in-car experts and brand ambassadors to entice consumers to learn more about Mazda and experience a test drive.
From a warm cup of coffee and lounge chairs to phone charging stations and WiFi, the cube space allowed participants to experience the world of Mazda through imagery and videos, while providing a centralized area for guests to relax pre- and post-drive.
“The cubes transform from moveable trailers to a welcoming space that draws the consumer into the experience,” explains Levitan. “Each cube represented Mazda’s KODO design, SKYACTIV technology, as well as i-ACTIVSENSE safety features. The exhibit space was carefully crafted, in partnership with the Garage Team Mazda agency, to hit all of Mazda’s objectives.”
The cube concept also allowed PDI to meet another key objective – to continue to elevate Mazda’s brand image. That meant that, while cost effective, the tour and exhibit space still had to deliver a tone of style and sophistication.
After the initial five weeks of development, the Mazda Open Road Tour began its four-month journey to festivals, events and destinations across the country.
“One of our challenges was developing the logistics plan that would take the tour through the right cities, to the best events and venues, all within Mazda’s target demographics,” says Levitan.
PDI’s modular design made the event selection process a bit easier. The three exhibit cubes could be scaled to meet varying space availability. Ideally, the three cubes are used together to create a 30-foot Mazda footprint.
During the holiday season, several high-end malls were the chosen destination for the Mazda Open Road Tour. And, the gift card incentive concept was born as well.
“It’s one thing for people to see an event and walk by to see what’s going on,” explains Levitan. “But inspiring them to take action, in this case take a test drive, is often a far greater challenge.”
Levitan explains that the Mazda Open Road Tour team tested various ideas and incentives to garner the highest rate of participation at each event.
“We really worked on the science of each venue’s throughput – positioning the test drive to ensure we were getting the most exposure and honing in on the incentives that resonated with participants,” says Levitan.
The Mazda Open Road Tour began on October 17, 2015 and concluded in San Francisco on February 14, 2016.