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Lexus and Kontera Take Conquest Marketing to the Next Level

Earlier today a colleague shared with me a press release from Vibrant Media, the in-text ad network, that had been republished on The Auto Channel, a website that runs in-text ads from Vibrant’s competitor, Kontera. The release in question talks about an advertising deal Vibrant recently inked with Ford and Mazda. But since The Auto Channel works with the competition, readers who mouse over the words “Mazda” and “Ford” are presented ads from Lexus. Ouch! Unless you’re Lexus, in which case, Bravo!

Mazda's Big FourSquare Give-Away

Mazda's Special FourSquare Badges

Mazda teamed up with FM and FourSquare to create special badges for geo-location check-in-ers who visit certain types of establishments that Mazda wants associated with its kind of drivers — live music venues, hipster boutiques, fashion events, stylish watering holes, and in-person videogame competitions. One select winner will become mayor (for life) of his or her very own 2011 Mazda 2 subcompact hatchback.

From FM’s blog:

“The Mazda team worked with FM and foursquare to find an alternative approach to reaching young urbanites and connect with them at music, social media and group events. Followers of MazdaUSA’s foursquare, Twitter and Facebook channels will also see special location announcements for places where they can unlock the Inner Driver badge and instantly advance through the other steps.”

Generally I like this idea a lot. It’s a big, national brand connecting with customers at a very local level, and connecting with them around activities — going to fun places and telling friends where to find them by way of FourSquare — that tech-savvy young people are doing with or without Mazda’s contest. So much smarter than the many sponsored contest that try to lure consumers into forced, unnatural behavior in exchange for expensive prizes.

Next time, though, I’d love to see if Mazda can pull it off without the giving away a free car. I mean it’s generous of them to pony up a $14,000 reward, and I’m sure the winner will be thrilled. But in some ways the pricey give-away might distract Mazda (and its fans) from the bigger idea. It’s not about the car or who wins it in early December. It’s about Mazda showing the cool kids that it understands what fun looks like to their generation.

The magic of FourSquare is the game itself: They don’t need to send you an actual gold crown for checking in to your favorite spot, it’s enough to see the digital one that tells you you’re mayor.

Great start, Mazda. Now find away to keep the fun alive for everyone who doesn’t win a car.

(Disclosures: I was part of the founding team at Federated Media and continue to root for its success. I’m also the mayor of Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack.)