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Consumers unclear on Nissan brand, so ads will shift

NASHVILLE -- Sales are climbing, market share is up and business is profitable. But Nissan Division still feels that Americans are unclear about what the brand has to offer.

The company today rolled out a new national ad campaign that will begin focusing attention on Nissan as a brand rather than dwelling on individual models.

The redirection, undertaken even as Nissan outpaces rivals Toyota, Honda and Hyundai in year-over-year sales growth, will hit the airwaves beginning this Saturday in conjunction with college football. More ads will run on Sept. 1.

The ads will also run during Sunday night NFL football broadcasts, starting Sept. 9.

The new ads use the recurring line “Innovation for All” to assert Nissan´s claims as a source of industry innovation. The ads will showcase technologies where Nissan has been an early mass-market adopter, such as keyless entry, brake overrides to electronic acceleration and the all-electric family sedan.

´Growing our share´

The ads will center on the brand as the source of vehicles such as the Leaf, the industry´s first mass-production electric family vehicle, going on sale in December; and the Maxima, which the ads promote as a cross between a sports car and a family sedan.

“We´ve done well. We´ve been consistently and quietly growing our share,” says Jon Brancheau, vice president of Nissan marketing at Nissan North America Inc. But focus groups revealed that potential conquest buyers were unclear on Nissan´s product line, he says.

“Those who were familiar with us and owned the vehicle had a very favorable impression of us,” Brancheau told Automotive News at Nissan´s U.S. headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. “But when you talk to conquest prospects, they´re all over the place. And some of them just go blank.”

Brancheau, 49, who took over Nissan´s marketing in March after heading up U.S. and global marketing for Infiniti for the past year, says Nissan has suffered from a lack of consistency in its advertising. He also oversaw the implementation of a brand-oriented campaign for Infiniti last year intended to help that luxury marque improve its consumer awareness.

“We´ve really done a good job of growing share in some models, like the Altima,” he said. “But it hasn´t laddered up to help halo the Nissan brand.”

Nissan Division sales were 465,605 for the first seven months of this year, up 25 percent from the year-earlier period. The brand´s market share stood at 7 percent at the end of July, up from 6.4 percent a year earlier.

No more ´launch-and-leave´

“We´ve had a very model-by-model focus,” Brancheau said of Nissan´s marketing effort. “We want to move away from a launch-and-leave mentality, where you focus almost exclusively on launch models and then come up with a different campaign the next time you launch a vehicle.

"We want as high a degree of constancy as we can have so that every model ladders to the Nissan brand. So Nissan is the brand -- Leaf is the reason to believe that Nissan is an innovative brand.

“Innovation is really where we wanted to hang our hat,” he said. “It makes a complete declaration of who we are.´


Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2010 @ 09:07:21 LKT


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