In retooling its advertising, Nissan put customers, and their safety, first.
Nissan knew they were in a pickle. Over the past few years the brand’s marketing message became fragmented—some ads were about dads and race cars, other ads were targeted to sports fans, yet others focused on families and safety features. All together, though, critics noted that the brand lacked a central identity: What did Nissan stand for?
Looking to answer that question, Jeremy Tucker, Nissan’s US marketing chief, brought together the company’s executive team and the full roster of marketing execs and agencies for a pow-wow: The mission was to define the brand and hammer out a marketing strategy.
They saw the light! They understand what matters to you
What became clear after talking to customers, looking at research and noting what drivers respond to most was that people love cars with great features, especially safety, comfort and technology. And the largest group of people making those buying decisions? Women.
“The first aha,” Jeremy told us, was understanding the ‘purchase driver’ for most buyers: “Do I feel this is a smart, quality car that is safe for my family?”
But the Nissan team also looked what driving means to consumers today. “We [at Nissan] are car people and we love driving, but consumers will tell you driving has its challenges. Not all challenges are bad—kids, tailgating, vacation— but some are scary: texting drivers, potholes, distracted drivers.” And when the average mom in the US spends three hours a day shuttling her kids around, all this is a huge consideration. But for Nissan, it was an opportunity to tout the company’s smart technology and safety features.
Crafting an advertising message to better connect with you
“We are resetting the brand,” Jeremy told us. “We take ourselves seriously; we understand a car is a big purchase for consumers.” So the new campaign, which carries the theme “Take On,” shows how Nissan’s sedans and SUVs take on the obstacles and challenges of the road and keep you safe and in control.
But they want your attention, too, so the ads use humor, emotion and a bit of Hollywood magic to tell the story. “We wanted it to be epic, cinematic,” Jeremy said. The goal of the ads is to show “how the car performs in the real world, show its features the way you would experience them when you buy it.”
Taking a page from Disney. Yes, that Disney
Jeremy joined Nissan almost two years ago from Disney where he worked on consumer product strategy. At Disney he learned to work across the company to bring together departments that might not normally work together; breaking down the silos, as its known, is a popular and effective way to take on tough challenges, and Jeremy saw it as a way to retool the marketing message. “As a marketer it’s easy to pick up your crayons and move to a different sandbox,” Jeremy said; typically, when something isn’t working companies will hire new agencies or executives. “It’s harder to challenge everyone and get great work from them,” but he and other Nissan executives recognized the importance of a team approach.
The challenge doesn’t stop with marketing, though. Nissan will extend these messages into dealerships and their sales teams, so that the experience they create for their customers, especially women, is consistent with the message in the ads. Judy Wheeler, Nissan’s head of sales, is creating programs to help dealers to train and educate their teams, so when you walk into a Nissan dealership, the images and ideas behind the marketing campaigns play out in real life, too: Leaving the tough challenges to the road and keeping you safe and in control.