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Renaissance: A case study in brand revitalization and strategic

Ewing, Michael T, Fowlds, David A, Shepherd, Ian R B. The Journal of Product and Brand
Management. Santa Barbara: 1995. Vol. 4, Iss. 3; pg. 19, 8 pgs

Abstract (Summary)

The introduction of the original Mazda 323 five-door automobile into the South African market in 1977
launched the brand from virtual obscurity to instant success. The 323 became the top-selling derivative
in the country, and the brand became a household name. However, during the 1980s, the brand's
equity steadily eroded, and it was perceived to be a staid, boring marque with a poor image. A
description is provided of the way in which the brand was successfully revitalized in the early 1990s. A
distinction is drawn between revitalization and the successful "renaissance" advertising strategy. The
outcome of the renaissance campaign is reviewed in addition to Mazda's current performance. It is
concluded that the brand has been successfully revived - to the point that Mazda's market share in
South Africa is the highest achieved by the brand anywhere in the world.

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Full Text

(3437 words)
Copyright MCB University Press Limited 1995


Brands. They power companies, pay salaries and in recent years have even become a balance-sheet
item (Blackett, 1993; Lin, 1993; Thomas, 1993), yet the extent to which practitioners and academics
truly understand brand management remains uncertain (Goodyear, 1993). Marketing professionals
sometimes seem to forget that brands do not really exist objectively at all: they are not to be found in
factories, delivery pipelines or retail outlets; they reside in people's heads (Restall and Gordon, 1993).
The schematic memory of a brand in relation to competing brands, products or stores is referred to as
positioning (a term often used interchangeably with image). Brand (re)positioning is therefore achieved
through carefully manipulating all aspects of consumer information processing (Hawkins et al., 1992)
to the extent that product design and quality and advertising messages need to be consistent.
Sufficient repetitions, rewards and so forth must be offered to ensure that the desired interpretation
(product position) is finally learned (Hawkins et al., 1992). This article addresses the case of a brand
with an established yet somewhat irrelevant and undifferentiated position. The marketing task,
therefore, was one of rejuvenation, or revitalization -- rather than repositioning in the traditional sense.

The original core values of the Mazda brand in South Africa (durability and reliability), while still
important to consumers at the rational level, had become inherent in almost all other automotive
brands. By concentrating on new core values (quality, technology and excitement), the brand was
successfully refreshed -- giving it the substance to endure and succeed within a highly competitive,
dynamic and brand conscious market.

From repositioning to revitalization