Infiniti Taps March Madness in CBS, ESPN Campaigns

Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti marque is launching a multiplatform campaign in support of its new line of luxury sedans, activating a full-court press that includes buys in ESPN’s college basketball telecasts and throughout CBS’ March Madness coverage.

Along with a pair of new 30-second spots for the 2010 Infiniti G sedan and coupe, the automaker is sponsoring a new pre-game feature on ESPN. The Infiniti College Basketball Tip-Off will run immediately before eight NCAA Div. 1 men’s matchups, including seven Saturday prime-time games and a Tuesday night tilt.

Each Infiniti Tip-Off show features interviews with head coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and UNC’s Roy Williams, with an eye toward giving fans a better sense of the role that inspiration plays in securing victory. The theme links to Infiniti’s established “Inspired Performance” tagline.

A supplemental “Inspiring Coaches” spotlight series will be available on and ESPN Mobile, immediately prior to each Infiniti-sponsored game. Hosted by college basketball scribe Andy Katz, the video clips feature Q&As with 15 college coaches.

Infiniti will also be featured in branded “What To Watch For” teasers that will air across ESPN’s linear TV platforms in the run-up to each week’s game.

Once the brackets are set, Infiniti will buy time in CBS’ presentation of March Madness, ensuring it will be in position to reach its target demo of affluent male Gen Xers, guys between the ages of 35 and 45 who boast household incomes of $110,000+. On April 5, the night of the NCAA Championship game, the creative will shift to the 2011 Infiniti M sedan, a $48,000 four-door set to hit dealerships in the spring.

“College basketball, and particularly the NCAA Championship Tournament, is one of those special moments in time that everyone looks forward to every year. Infiniti is proud to be a major player this year in support of the NCAA Basketball…and college hoops fans from coast-to-coast,” said Ben Poore, vp, Infiniti business unit. “With this multiplatform approach and the creation of unique editorial content…we’re creating a great space from which to promote our brand and launch the exciting new Infiniti M sedan.”

TBWA\Chiat\Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., is Infiniti’s lead creative agency. Over the weekend, full-page print ads for the Infiniti G sedan appeared in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today. The print ads likened the performance of the luxury sedan to a powerful ocean wave, unifying the two concepts with a bold black brushstroke.

Consumers drove 81,089 new Infiniti vehicles off the lot last year, a 28 percent drop from 112,989 in 2008. All told, the U.S. market in 2009 weathered a 21 percent decline in new car sales.

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