The limited edition 25th anniversary model of the Mazda MX-5, known to fans as the Miata, is sold out in the Philippines.
On a sweltering day at Mazda's sprawling facility in Laguna, Berjaya president and CEO Steven Tan recounted the fortunate series of events that saw the Philippines, not traditionally a big market for Miatas, selling out the 2014 limited edition, two-seater roadster.
What exactly does limited edition mean?
"We only distribute a thousand," Tan explained.
"The allocation goes like this," he continued. "Europe gets 700, the US gets 200, and 100 is left for the rest of the world."
"Japan gets 50. So there's only 50 left. Australia, Taiwan, South Africa—they all want it. That means we're not going to get any at all!"
Tan admitted that, in the last few years, only seven Miatas were sold in the Philippines.
"The news was already out that a new Miata was coming next year. So it would be suicide to try to push a Miata into the market, right?"
In March 2014, Tan attended a Miata Club Philippines meeting and bounced around the idea of making the collector's item available in the Philippines: "We talked about it, showed some pictures, and said, 'If you guys want it, we'll bring it in.'"
"We left the meeting with 15 names on a napkin," Tan disclosed.
That same week, Mazda's "Number Two," Yuji Nakamine, global marketing and sales chief, arrived in Manila.
Tan met Nakamine and related the story of the Miata orders on a napkin—to which the global honcho replied, "How many do you want?"
"It 's our 25th anniversary; we want 25," Tan said, taking a punt, all the while thinking, "We have a list of 15. If the 15 back out, we would be in a lot of trouble."
Since only 50 Miatas would be allocated to the rest of the world after the big markets were served, both execs knew getting half that for a small Miata market like the Philippines would be, in Nakamine's words, "a long shot."
Still, Nakamine said, "I'll see what I can do."
Soon after, Mazda's global chief of marketing, Masahiro Moro-san, was in Bangkok to launch the Mazda3.
"I managed to get a seat next to him during lunch," Tan said. "So I repeated the story to him and asked, 'Moro-san, are you going to help me?'"
But Moro-san replied, "Are you sure? As far as I know you guys haven't sold any at all!"
Tan was worried about Berjaya's credibility as Mazda's Philippine distributor.
"If we crash and burn, they're not going to believe us again," he said.
A month later, Tan received an e-mail that basically said, "You want 25? You got 25."
And then Mazda US announced it was releasing 100 collector's edition Miatas.
"Which means that our 25 came from the US allocation," Tan pointed out, adding that the 100 US cars sold out in minutes.
"We did not even advertise," Tan said in wonder.
"The reason why this 25 happened is because of the club," he concluded.