Nissan Delivers a Versa Note to One Lucky Buyer in an Enormous Amazon Box

Reddit blows automaker's cover

Headshot of David Griner

When Nissan offered to sell its Versa Note on Amazon last fall, it promised to ship the cars to three lucky buyers in actual Amazon boxes. Well, this weekend it was delivery day!

A Reddit user on Monday posted this photo from Madison, Wis., noting: "What's the largest item you can have shipped from Amazon? Because I think my neighbor just got it." A commenter soon pointed out the Nissan partnership, which seemed to be the most obvious explanation of such an epic delivery. AdFreak then reached out to Nissan, and Erich Marx, the automaker's director of interactive and social-media marketing, confirmed that the Redditor had captured the delivery—which was meant to be kept under wraps until a video could be released next week.

The original idea, he said, came from Nissan agency TBWA\Chiat\Day. "They mentioned it, and we all kind of laughed and thought, 'Wouldn't that be funny?' " said Marx. "But over the course of a few days, we kept coming back to it and said, 'Why not deliver a car in an Amazon box?' … It's never really been done. I think the visual is pretty hilarious. Everybody knows the Amazon box. We thought it would capture people's imagination. It certainly captured ours." In the end, Marx added, Nissan decided to deliver just one Versa Note, not three as originally planned.

The Redditor's photo, which hit the site's front page on Monday, came as a surprise to Nissan. "We were filming the video this weekend and a neighbor noticed what we were doing and posted what amounts to a spy photo," said Marx. "The best laid marketing plans, right? We were going to do a press release and a video and this whole thing next week. But the photo got out there, and people started buzzing about it. So we had to scramble."

The first 100 people to order the Versa Note on Amazon got $1,000 gift cards. Nissan contacted many of them, and then chose the Madison customer as the winner. "Quite frankly it was the enthusiasm of this winner—they were so thrilled and thought it was hilarious," said Marx. "We were all voting for someone in Hawaii. We were like, 'Madison, Wisconsin, in January? That's going to be cold.' But this winner was so into it, we knew it was going to be great."

Nissan is keeping the winner's name private for now. He or she will be revealed in the video, which is still set to be released next week. "We wanted to keep some of our original plan intact," said Marx. UPDATE: The video below rolled out later in January. It's posted below.

Does Marx envision a day when a Nissan could be delivered by a fleet of Amazon drones? Laughing, he replied, "No, I think this a really fun onetime execution. We have a great dealer network, and we want our dealers to be involved in the marketing and delivery of our cars. We certainly don't want to step on their toes."

More photos below.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."