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Mazda's Turn to Promote their car. This article claims the 2 door sports car market is headed up.

NEW YORK -- As Mazda gears up for the September launch of its iconic Miata, now called MX-5, the market for $20,000-$30,000 sporty two-doors and convertibles is heating up, thanks largely to Ford's Mustang.

The market, which also includes the just-launched Mitsubishi Eclipse and Scion tC, and will expand this year and next to include the Pontiac Solstice roadster and Saturn Sky, is up 36%, per J.D. Power & Associates, more than any other segment in the industry.

In June alone it was up 71%. The share of that segment through June was 2.5% of the car market, versus 1.95% a year ago. Mustang sales through June were 96,011; through June a year ago they were 73,333.

Today, Mazda starts promoting the car plus its new Mazda5 vehicle via a cross-promotion with Time Warner and NBC, touting the cars and the network's fall lineup of new and returning programming. The campaign, including on-air promotion, in-movie-theater advertising, magazines, CD-ROMs and interactive online, is called “NBC First Look, presented by Mazda,” and puts the cars into short teasers for new shows. An online sweepstakes at www.nbcfirstlook.com gives three consumers the chance to win either car.

In July, the site-show features previews and video. In August, the site will refresh with previews of the new season, on-set interviews with stars and actor bios and on-set photography.

Regal cinemas will preview footage from shows and NBC programs showing Mazda vehicles. People and Entertainment Weekly's annual fall issues will include a CD-ROM featuring both NBC and Mazda content.

Product launches, says Wes Brown of IceOlogy, Thousand Oaks, Calif., are driving the market. “The coupe and roadster segment, depending on how you define it, is a segment that performs well when there's new product involved,” he said. “The only time we seem to see major interest is when new sheet metal hits the road.”

He speculates that new buyers are coming from statement-seekers. “These are younger people, pushing off marriage and kids until later; they want cars that provide much more styling statement, that fits attitude, image.”

It might be a stretch, but both he and Sharon Lee, president of consultancy Look-Look, LA, speculate that some of these buyers might even be part of the exodus from large vehicles. “SUV's aren't a fashion statement any more. There's over-saturation, and lack of styling and innovation,” said Lee.

Tim Blett, president of Doner, Newport Beach, Mazda's agency, concurs. “There are a three things coming together to fuel this: an emotional element, a growing mindset of personal expression, and gas prices,” he said. “Those who wouldn't have thought a lot about their purchases and gone right into an SUV are second-guessing it.”

The company will launch youth-oriented ads in September, touting the heritage of the vehicle as an “all new classic,” with a theme of oneness between car and driver. Ads will use the theme-line “Be the car.”

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The article is spot on. The coupe market always ebbs and flows with the age of the vehicles in it. It has been unfortunate that it has shrunk as much as it has over the last decade, since sporty coupes are often some of the best styled affordable cars on the road (at least IMO). I hope this growth promotes more automakers to come out with some more sporty iron to compete!
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