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Mazda Sponsoring SXSW ‘Cuz Good Music Is Hard to Find

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Mazda Sponsoring SXSW Festival music film Texas Michael Stipe REM

Michael Stipe of REM belts it out at the 2008 SXSW Festival
Photo:Kris Krüg via CC

Mazda’s latest move seems to cement the idea that the Japanese brand wants to be known not just as a reliable auto manufacturer but as a connoisseur of hip and trendy music. Essentially, the “cool guy” who seems to show up at all the hot music spots around town but is clearly  there just to be seen.

At least, that’s based on the sponsorship trends of Mazda North America this year. After having partnered with Duran Duran to promote the Fashion Rocks show with mixed results, the automaker is ready to ditch the mainstream and become “indie” with a three-year partnership with the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival.

While the news of Mazda sponsoring SXSW might be accused of some as being contrived, it’s a step in the right direction to attract customers more than Fashion Rocks did. And, the more support for alternative music there is, the better.

Related: How Mazda’s innovative headlights will spark a lightbulb in the industry’s head

What Does Mazda Sponsoring SXSW Have to Do with Selling Cars?

If you’re too old or mainstream to know what the SXSW Conferences & Festivals are, suffice it to say that the event series has become a heavy-hitter in the promotion of up-and-coming acts since it began in 1987.

Taking place mid-March in Austin, Texas, SXSW consists of music, film, and interactive media exhibitions over the course of two weeks. The music portion is the largest conference of its kind in the world, featuring more than 2,000 performances across nearly 100 venues.

Apparently, representatives visited the event in 2014– or saw the impact of festival over the years– and decided that Mazda sponsoring SXSW would be a good investment. With all the up-and-coming creative talent being showcased and cross-promoted at SXSW, that’s not a bad decision.

“After spending time at last year’s SXSW in Austin, we knew it was the right fit for the Mazda brand and were eager to expand upon our presence moving forward,” said Russell Wager, vice president of Marketing for MNAO. “Music, film and technology are passion points for Mazda customers and our official partnership with the festival will allow us to connect with them on a deeper level, in one of the most forward-thinking environments around.”

Mazda Sponsoring SXSW Festival music film Texas crowd audience night

If you look hard enough, you’ll see the Miata standing in the corner like it’s too cool to be there
Photo: Nan Palmero via CC

The 2015 SXSW Festival will take place March 13th-22nd and is expected to draw an increased number of visitors than the previous years. How Mazda sponsoring SXSW will affect the festival has yet to be seen, as its promotional role has not been disclosed. Still, the brand will get its hand in the business activity and networking opportunities in Texas while building an image with young, trendy consumers.

While the majority of us won’t make it to SXSW in March, we can still see music and video samples of the music acts in action on the festival’s YouTube channel.

Just don’t be surprised if you see Mazda standing in the front row of the audience with its sunglasses and grunge tattoos.

Related: Mazda has interests other than just cars and music festivals