Pathfinder Goes on Weekend Adventures

LOS ANGELES Undeterred by sagging domestic SUV sales related to gas prices, TBWA\Chiat\Day’s recently released campaign for the Nissan Pathfinder aims at “owning the Monday morning water cooler and coffee break,” said Joe Shands, creative director.

Employing “Tell better stories” as a tag, three spots show weekend lifestyles of rapid-fire action and adventure. In the 30-second “New York,” a man walking to work in Manhattan with a buddy tells of a getaway with horses, geyser-fed hot springs and other outdoor encounters. The spot ends with the Pathfinder owner jokingly reporting that he’s returned to work only because he misses his urban colleagues.

In “Digital Camera,” a young man notes the change in his parents’ behavior as they begin to act uncharacteristically spontaneous. A couple in “Better Stories” regales dinner guests with a story of a mysterious creature in a lake before snapping them back to reality with an offer of broccoli.

Shands makes the distinction between vehicle spots that offer “unbelievable” differences in owners’ lives and more realistic acts of people “packing it up, driving and living lives where they’re cramming vivid experiences into weekends on family adventures.”

“We’re looking at the market of those people who work hard and started families, but are not done with having adventures,” Shands said.

Ralph Schmerberg of @Radical Media directed “New York” and “Better Stories,” and Patrick Sherman of Anonymous Content directed “Digital Camera.” Mike Yagi and Chris Lynch worked under Shands at Omnicom Group’s TBWA\C\D in Playa del Rey, Calif., where Rob Schwartz is executive creative director.

Campaign spending was not disclosed. Nissan, which is moving its headquarters from Gardena, Calif., to Nashville, Tenn., spent $70 million advertising the Pathfinder through August 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

In contrast to a market rejecting many SUVs, the Pathfinder has enjoyed dramatic sales growth. In July, the nameplate sold 8,249 units, up 147 percent over July 2004; August, 6,396 units, up 156 percent; September, 5,088 units, up 135 percent; and through October, 4,917 units, up 53 percent. Unit sales stand at 62,719, up 153 percent calendar year to date, all per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif.