2010 Suzuki KizashiEnlarge Photo
In some parts of the world, Suzuki enjoys a reputation for building attractive, well-made cars. In the U.S.? Not so much. The company is trying to change that with a new marketing campaign for the 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, but we have some concerns.
Suzuki's campaign takes a two-pronged approach. In the first burst of ads coming to print and TV, Suzuki positions the Kizashi as a luxury car for the thinking man -- a sedan with all the bells and whistles you'd expect in a high-end ride, but at a much lower price. (The Kizashi starts just under $19,000.) That sentiment is in keeping with many reviews of the Kizashi, including the one penned by our own Bengt Halvorson, who says, "If you can get past the Suzuki badge itself, you'll be pleasantly surprised."
The second leg of the campaign is called "Wicked Weather". According to a Suzuki press release, these ads will "illustrate the Kizashi's all-wheel-drive performance and handling credentials and will focus primarily on U.S. regions where owning an all-wheel-drive vehicle is a necessity." In other words, the Kizashi will be pitched as a rugged vehicle that's able to handle severe weather -- particularly snow and ice -- with ease. Suzuki is blowing out all the stops on this part of the campaign, throwing in not just print and TV, but also radio and the now-mandatory Facebook game. (Please let it be better than the awful one developed for the Kia Soul.)
Now, on the one hand, we like the Kizashi, and we're happy to see an underdog like Suzuki get some time in the spotlight. Suzuki has done a good job in designing the car, and if the company keeps up that level of work, it could become as much of a player in the U.S. auto market as it's been in the world of ATVs and motorcycles.
On the other hand, putting out two messages that have little to do with one another seems odd -- especially since the Kizashi is a new, weirdly named model that needs to be explained to the public. Furthermore, the launch of the campaign is a little troubling: we received a full press release about the marketing plan, and since there's no mention of an embargo, we'd ordinarily presume that the campaign is in full swing. Unfortunately, there's little data to be found online, and what's there is pretty terrible.
Case in point: the TV ad for the first portion of the campaign, dubbed "Rich Man". For some reason, the spot hasn't been posted to YouTube yet, and the only place it's viewable is deep within the Suzuki website, under "Everything Suzuki" > "TV Commercials". It's simply marked "Kizashi TV commercial". Technically, it's also on the webite of Siltanen & Partners -- the El Segundo, California-based agency that built the spot -- but we're highly allergic to clunky, unembeddable, Quicktime video.
In sum: we wish Suzuki the best, and we hope the Kizashi helps improve the company's profile in the U.S., but for their next campaign, we suggest they get a second opinion.