Wednesday, February 29

Speaking For SUVs: The Lorax?

Some people are saying the recent decision to cross-market the upcoming movie treatment of the Lorax and the Mazda's CX-5 could be the marketing mismatch of the decade. In a commercial featuring an animated CX-5 driving through a Truffula tree forest, the narrator suggests that the CX-5 has received "the only Truffula tree seal of approval."

Emblazoned on screen while the narrator touts the endorsement is the seal, proclaiming "Certified Truffula Tree Friendly. We Care An Awful Lot!" Only the Lorax seems a bit perturbed in the spot, poking grouchy fun at the repetitiveness of the spot and demanding equal billing at the end.

An anti-commericalism film that promotes cars? 

One of the many growing complaint columns about the commercial, this one by Devin Faraci, summed: "Sometimes I feel like satire is dead, and that's because everything in this world is so insane and screwed up that making fun of it feels redundant."

Faraci cares an awful lot. But he doesn't care more than Zozo. Zozo is a Hensen-created creature that was created to help educate children and their families about the environment. This includes how people think about combustion vehicles in general. Since the blowback began, Zozo has been voicing concern on Twitter and recently joined the "Rethinking the Automobile" project by Mark Gordon.

"This advertising campaign goes directly against the message and spirit of the Lorax," said Zozo in a release put out by OpenPlans. "The Lorax speaks for the trees, not the SUVees! I urge Universal, Mazda and their partners to immediately remove from circulation any and all advertising that uses Dr. Seuss's character the Lorax to promote and sell Mazda automobiles."

But how serious is Mazda about the promotion of the CX-5 as an environmentally friendly SUV? Enough that it would boost its advertising budget by 25 percent. According to Car Pro, that means advertising will be about $325 million to embed its new term, Skyactiv technology, into the language.

The chief marketing officer for Mazda North America went so far as to say that the pairing of the Lorax and the CX-5 is a natural fit (probably because it gets 28 miles per gallon). Along with the campaign, Mazda also launched a test-drive program that would benefit the NEA Foundation with a donation up to $1 million in support of public school libraries.

On the other side of the spectrum, some in the petroleum and logging industries have said that the film unfairly attacks them. And that is a curious thing that makes the Faraci quote stand out all the more.

When you think of an environmental-themed book being made into a multimillion dollar movie being marketed by a car company that promotes test drives for books causing two benefiting suppliers to be up in arms (petroleum for cars and trees for paper), there isn't any room left for satire.

The only thing that could make it more interesting is if the people who make Snuggies came out against the film. (They look like thneeds.) But then again, I might be biased. The Lorax sports a mustache.
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