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Nissan Previews Big Year for Launches

New ads continue 'Innovation for all' theme
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Innovation is all the rage at Nissan, as the Japanese carmaker preps for one of its busiest model launch years ever in the U.S.

Starting with the Altima, the company will bow new versions of five models in the next 15 months. The others are Pathfinder, Sentra, Versa and Rogue.

Initial teaser ads from TBWA\Chiat\Day use the “Innovation for all” theme that Nissan introduced in its 2010 campaign for the Leaf electric car.

The five models represent 80 percent of Nissan’s total U.S. sales each year, so there’s a lot riding on the new push. Also, given the scope of the effort, the company’s 2012 media spending will grow significantly, according to Jon Brancheau, vp of marketing for North America. By one estimate, spending will rise more than 20 percent from last year’s total, which Nielsen put at $580 million.

The “Shift” moniker that Nissan introduced 10 years ago remains in the new ads but plays second fiddle to “innovation.” (The former word now appears under the company’s logo.) Indeed, as the teasers give way to core ads, the campaign will focus on new features, such as an electronic control panel that’s now over the steering wheel in a driver’s line of sight.

White sheets cover the cars in the teasers, which take the form of TV, print, outdoor and Web ads. Nissan's Web site also provides glimpses of the cars. 

In one TV spot, “Epic,” men and women representing each model’s core target stop in their tracks and gaze at a sheeted car as it passes. The ad ends with the five cars driving in a pack on an open road with the sheets about to be blown away. 

The teasers began this month and will run through April and May, with the first of the new feature-focused Altima ads breaking in June, Brancheau said. The Pathfinder-specific ads will bow in late fall.

As with the previous Leaf campaign, actor Robert Downey Jr. is supplying voiceovers for the TV work. To Rob Schwartz, chief creative officer of the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA\C\D, Downey perfectly fits the tone of the Nissan’s marketing: simple and human with energy and a wink. Besides, Schwartz added, “He’s got a great voice.”