Thursday, September 15, 2005


I'm curious to see what Burnout Revenge would look like on the 360

-from a recent Penny Arcade news article.

Hmm, interesting. Could this be a problem for the Microsoft console? They specifically eschewed the choice of "Xbox 2" in order to not seem a generation behind the Playstation, which would be at number three already. The problem is that 360 is a brand in itself, identifying the machine in a console gaming context. Which means that casual discussions observed by the uninitiated will not feature a discernible brand name. But word of mouth is an important marketing tool. The PS2/The PS3 has no meaning outside gaming, but 360 is not exclusively a console name. By separating the make and model, Microsoft may have done themselves a disservice.

Mazda had a similar problem. Just a few years ago they produced the most forgettable econoboxes this side of the Nissan Sentra (which has an invisibility factor similar to the "Someone Else's Problem" field described in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). The thing is, they were now owned by Ford, so they had a large trunk of R&D money and access to Ford of Europe's platforms. The first thing they did was attempt to find out what people thought a Mazda was. Turned out that they only had one car charismatic enough to be in the public consciouseness - the MX-5/Miata - and everyone thought Toyota made it.

So, in addition to building some extremely good mainstream cars based on the Mondeo and new Focus platforms, they pulled a marketing stunt by calling them the Mazda6 and Mazda3. They insisted that this was the proper spelling - no space between them.

OK, that didn't entirely work, but because in an automotive context 'the Six' and 'the Three' are not unique, in fact by default they refer to BMWs, people do say things like "I love my Mazda 3" as opposed to "I've had no problems with my Protege".

Result, then.

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