Nissan doesn’t play it safe

A new platform for the automaker's sedans begins with a spot for the Sentra that turns safety tech into a spy gadget.

After a campaign full of high-impact ads for its SUVs, Nissan is launching a new platform to get consumers to give its cars a second look.

To highlight the “Safety Shield” technology available in the new Sentra, a new spot by Juniper Park\TBWA shows a sharply-dressed James Bond lookalike evading pursuit, using the model’s collision detection features to make a covert escape when he races into a dead end.

“Safety is approached in a lot of ways by a lot of other companies so we had to do something different,” says Steve Rhind, director of marketing at Nissan Canada. “There’s the fear side of that message, and the negative connotations it can conjure up, even though it’s a rational thing. We wanted to get to a more fun and interesting look at it.”

OMD is handling the media buy, with Critical Mass handling some digital and website elements.

Rhind says that besides promoting a car that has been redesigned and significantly updated for this year, the goal with this campaign is to convert awareness of the Sentra brand into understanding and differentiation.

“One of the things we know is that people are familiar with the Sentra name, but not what makes it different from other models,” Rhind says. “The ask to the agency was something that was pretty dramatic and would catch people’s attention, and get them to give us a closer look. We wanted to focus on safety in particular because we have some top tech in our vehicle, some of which isn’t available in our competitors, so it’s a differentiator.”

The campaign launches a new platform for Nissan’s cars, and much of its direction has been influenced by the “#ConquerAllConditions” platform Nissan has been using for its crossovers and SUVs over the last several years. Both platforms focus on bringing excitement to the driving experience and, much like how “#ConquerAllConditions” began with the Rogue before expanding to include other models, this platform will be centred on the Sentra and occasionally bring in other sedans, such as the Altima and Maxima.

“Part of the approach is being impactful and different from what others are doing in the compact car space, and it also needs to be consistent with our brand overall,” Rhind says. “If you look at what we did with our crossovers, we talked about all-wheel drive as our main message. But every crossover has all-wheel drive. So we talked about it in a unique way that got peoples’ attention and got them thinking about Nissan crossovers in particular. We wanted to apply that kind of approach with our sedans.”

Rhind says Nissan is focusing on the Sentra for the new platform because it’s the company’s highest-volume car and competes in the biggest segment. Digital creative for the Altima and Maxima as part of the platform will be rolling out in the near future.