Kawasaki capitalizes on Disney’s ‘The Lone Ranger’ for Teryx4 promotion
In a way, Chris Brull sat a world away from Times Square for Kawasaki’s latest marketing task. Buckman Ranch on the La Tierra Trails system in Santa Fe offered easy access, plenty of dust, off-road riding options galore and a dozen media members ready to tackle the trails aboard the 2013 Teryx4, a 749cc machine that has joined the growing industry brigade of side-by-side options.
But these days, if it’s Kawasaki and there’s a promotion involved, the masses can’t be too far away. Brull, marketing director for Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., knows about getting eyeballs in front of Kawasaki products — and, ideally, consumers to purchase them later. He steered Kawasaki’s highly successful Ninja Times Square Takeover launch last year in New York City, which unveiled the 2013 Ninja lineup.
Fast-forward one year, and Brull, fresh from the distinctive La Fonda hotel, could be found telling the tale of how Kawasaki has elevated its brand so much that now Disney comes calling, seeking out the brand.
This time, Brull was the point man for Team Green’s major partnership with Disney’s “The Lone Ranger.” Brull gathered with media members in Santa Fe to not only put a few hours on the impressive Teryx4, but also to attend “The Lone Ranger’s” premiere, days before its July Hollywood opening.
Blockbuster or flop on the movie front, there’s no denying that Kawasaki’s brand stature continues to rise. In fact, one insider in Santa Fe said that few other partners of the marketing giant match the high regard in which Disney holds Kawasaki.
But why Kawsasaki and why the Teryx4? For starters, you won’t find “The Lone Ranger” or Tonto (Johnny Depp) hopping aboard a side-by-side or other Kawasaki product in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie (although Armie Hammer, “The Lone Ranger,” did spend many hours riding a KX during downtime while the film was being shot). What Brull hopes you will see, thanks to a mammoth partnership that landed the brand on spots on “Good Morning America” and in Subway restaurants, is more people entertaining the thought of hopping onto a side-by-side for summer entertainment.
“It’s all about the idea of chasing cool, and cool is in eye of the beholder, so if you have to say you’re cool, you’re probably not cool,” Brull told Powersports Business. “The idea of associating with other brands that are premium, Disney, was something that was very interesting to us to get the word out. In powersports, we’re all fighting for essentially the same customers, so we wanted to naturally differentiate for Teryx.”
To experience that level of fun, media members got a (dusty) taste of the Teryx4’s possibilities during a ride a day earlier in the Caja Del Rio Canyon. The environment was much more staid the following day at Bishop’s Lodge during the global press conference for “The Lone Ranger,” where Depp entertained media members from places like Singapore and New Zealand, in addition to Yahoo! and the Associated Press.
The brand’s lineup off-road motorcycles, four-wheel vehicles and street motorcycles are featured in exclusive videos on KawasakiTV’s YouTube channel depicting a transition from the film to scenes of modern-day powersports enthusiasts riding to their limits. The “Live the Legend” video can be seen at bit.ly/LiveTheLegend. Those marketing spots might are expected to bring high viewership.
“Jerry Bruckheimer himself had to sign off on [the videos],” Brull said. “He said they really appreciated the effort we made on the marketing materials. We worked with director Gore Verbinski and on down to the color correctors. Jerry told me he came up through his craft making TV spots, and he wasn’t used to partners taking the time effort like we did. We were very proud. We didn’t want to show up and do it. We wanted to stand out in a very cool and authentic way.”
Times Square offshoot
The partnership happened as a residual brought on by the success of Kawasaki’s Times Square Takeover in New York City a year ago, when 1.5 million people viewed the brand’s products.
“As we were dipping our toes into finding out way to get our products in front of people for 2013, our team began talking with other properties,” Brull said. “The folks at Disney saw what we did in Times Square, and said ‘Wow, that event you did there was really, really cool. We have this great property [“The Lone Ranger”] and a great filmmaker [Bruckheimer]. It wasn’t like they needed a great brand in their movie.”
In fact, Brull got asked often about the role of Kawasaki products in the film.
“One of the jokes I was telling is that Subway is another of their partners, and you don’t see footlongs in the 1880s either, right?” Brull laughed. “We wanted to widen the net of customers, and use that idea of ‘rebel with an attitude.’ We want people to come be part of the party. We’re very inclusionary, instead of exclusionary. We know we’re not for everybody.”
Dealers who wanted to reach those in search of adventure took advantage of the OEM’s promotional reach. Kawasaki’s 30 district managers invited select dealers to an advanced screening of the movie in their own markets. Many dealers created showroom events in conjunction with the release. Others had daylong celebrations at their showroom on the movie’s July 3 release date.
It was another step that allowed dealers to benefit from the brand’s staunch marketing power. There’s no word on whether Kawasaki dealers are expecting more of the same in years to come. If so, other familiar consumer brands might be battling for a spot at the altar to join Kawasaki.
“When you’re trying to be brave and push uphill, when you’re the first one out as we were in Times Square in the powersports industry, people can be a little skeptical,” Brull said. “If we did it right, word would get out. As we make our brand stand out, it will inherently attract other brands — ‘Wow, those Kawi guys, they do things a little different. Let’s see if we can join them.’”
That thought extends to the dealer level.
“It was easy for dealers to embrace the program,” Brull said. “When you can trot out the names Disney and ‘The Lone Ranger,’ customers can identify with those brands. A partnership with Disney? It just doesn’t happen [with other powersports brands].”
Five limited edition Teryx4 750 4x4 LEs were part of a giveaway by Subway, and a Teryx4 and four Shoei off-road helmets were the grand prize for a “Good Morning America” sweepstakes.
Kawasaki also provided a custom-designed Lone Ranger Ninja ZX-6R sport bike that was on display at the movie’s world premiere. That event was a benefit for the American Indian College Fund, and the film’s stars and other celebrities in attendance signed the unique motorcycle. It was then auctioned at a later date with all proceeds going to support the fund.