Kawi marketing mania: Race Rickey for a free ZX-14R


Drag racer Rickey Gadson’s Zero to Hero challenge slated for 2012 is a prime example of Kawasaki’s marketing creativity (some might say genius). As explained by Chris Brull, director of marketing: “Rickey is taking on all comers who are going to challenge him head-to-head in a drag race. Both Rickey and his challengers are going to race stock 2012 ZX-14Rs. Bottom line: You beat Rickey, you’re going to keep the bike.”

Brull was speaking at the recent Kawasaki dealer meeting in Orlando, Fla., where he spent much of the “executive presentation” detailing the company’s 2012 marketing plans, as well as recapping last year’s successes while sharing some interesting numbers (see below).

Naturally, the brunt of the talk was on how Kawasaki will promote its five new or redone vehicles for 2012: the ZX-14R, Ninja 650, Teryx4, Brute Force 300 and Jet Ski Ultra LX, the last of which Kawi will support with 1.95 percent retail financing and the customer’s choice of a special accessory discount or a $500 gas card.

Early-buyer discount campaigns include $200 for the Brute Force and $300 for the Ninja 650. The discount amount for the ZX-14R is forthcoming, and will complement special 36-month financing. New for Kawasaki are trade allowance amounts: $300 for the 650 and $500 for the 14R.

The launch campaigns for the Brute Force 300 and Teryx4 — “Power 2 Work” and “Off-Road Rated,” respectively — will run from early November through next June.

Kawasaki is especially trumpeting its entry into the four-seat market. The Ultimate Summer Vacation campaign will allow a family to win an all-expenses-paid trip to ride with racing great Destry Abbott. Moreover, they will be riding with Abbott’s wife and two teenagers, emphasizing the whole point of having four seats. “Our cameras are going to capture their experience in an Off-Road Rated adventure,” Brull said. “We’re going to broadcast this experience on Kawasaki.com, YouTube and Facebook.”

Kawasaki also has partnered with Field & Stream to create a new cable TV series starring the Teryx4. “We’re going to take viewers nationwide to 12 of the most challenging off-road trail locations across the country,” Brull explained. “And the new Teryx4 is going to take them there. From Moab to the Great Smoky Mountains, viewers are going to get a front-seat view as we put the Teryx4 to the test.”

Print and television advertising for the new motorcycles will begin in January and run through June. The Ninja 650 will be paired with the Ninja 1000 for a “Power of Seduction” campaign. A “Witness the Phenomenon” campaign for the ZX-14 will complement the Zero to Hero challenge, of which Brull said: “We really think this program is going to generate a lot of awareness for the ZX-14R, and excitement certainly in the drag-racing community.”

In March, Kawasaki will launch the Good Times Street Demo Tour with the new models as headliners. “We’re going to hit those streets really hard with an even bigger and better demo tour,” Brull said. “We’re going to be crisscrossing even more cities.”

Unlike last year, Kawasaki also will launch, at the same time, a demo program for four-wheel vehicles: Good Times Dirt Demo Days with the two new off-road models as headliners.

“And we’re going to create a special demo track program in addition to all these other demos,” Brull told dealers. “We’re demoing our brains out.” Retailers can also host their own demos by taking advantage of demo discounts for the new units.

For customers not able to get first-hand experience, Kawasaki has shot a host of high-quality videos up now at Kawasaki.com and m-Kawasaki.com (the mobile site). One highlight is a video in which Gadson repeatedly beats Suzuki’s Hayabusa on the drag strip, proving it to be “the most powerful mass production supersport bike ever.” A teaser video for the model has attracted more than 350,000 views since August. Technical videos include a strip-down of the Teryx4.

To help dealers build local ad campaigns for the new models, Kawasaki will provide on-product POP, direct mail materials, Web banners, and customizable print ads, TV commercials and radio spots. Finally, click here to learn how Kawasaki has bolstered its co-op advertising plan, and how it’s about to launch what it’s calling the ultimate showroom marketing tool: a Kawasaki-loaded iPad.

Brull also took the opportunity to share past marketing results.

No metric manufacturer has embraced the Internet more than Kawasaki. Brull said online views of Kawasaki content (anything the company has created on any site) grew as follows: 20 million in Q4 2010, 64 million in Q1 of this year, 95 million in Q2, and 102 million in Q3. “That’s 281 million online views in just one year,” Brull noted.

Kawasaki now has more than 316,000 Facebook fans and is active on Twitter, YouTube and other sites. “The Internet as a shopping source is more than twice as large as all other traditional pay media sources combined,” Brull told dealers. “This is where today’s family and friends connect. … For us, engaging word of mouth and influencing it is at the core of our marketing focus.”

Kawasaki habitually allows customers to personalize online content. Take, for example, the people who posted a picture of themselves riding their KX dirtbike onto the wall of the site dedicated to the line. “These customers are so into our brand they took the time to shoot a picture and upload it to our KX site,” Brull said. “Honestly, that’s passion.”

Kawasaki also triumphed in the real world. This past summer’s Good Times Sales Event, in which people requested a raffle ticket redeemable at a dealership for a chance to win a vehicle, was a resounding success. The numbers, according to Brull: 820 dealers, 52,000 participants, 65,000 leads, and 2,053 bikes sold.

Last year’s Ticket 2 Ride demo program racked up the following stats: 30 stops nationwide, 13,700 demos, 320 dealers and 12,000 leads (or 40 per dealer).

As Kawasaki will do next year, it hooked up customers with celebrities. Racing fans uploaded videos for a chance of a track day with Eric Bostrom on the ZX-10R. Other people wrote in for a chance to ride with Gadson on a Ninja 1000. Still others poured water on a game piece for a code to enter online for a chance to ride the then-new Jet Ski Ultra 300X with NASCAR champ Clint Bowyer.

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