CASSIES Gold: Nissan conquers all conditions

The car brand took on winter in a warm, folksy tone to sell its Rogue CUV.
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This article appears in the March/April 2017 issue of strategy.

Gold: Sustained Success  +  Silver: Automotive

SITUATION ANALYSIS | By the end of 2013, Nissan was in danger of missing out on CUVs, a growing car format in Canada. Its CUVs were being considered by 40% of Canadians, and market share for the Rogue (Nissan’s main category entrant) was below 6%. Nissan’s marketing focus had to switch from cars to CUVs. In January 2014, the brand was set to launch a new model Rogue.

INSIGHT & STRATEGY | The target for CUVs in Canada is dual-income, suburban couples in their mid-30s without children. Research shows that Canadian CUV drivers purchase their vehicles because of the all-wheel drive (despite almost never taking them off-road) because it allows them to drive confidently in adverse conditions – including the brutal Canadian winter. They take pride in being able to drive when conditions are at their worst. “Pride in the face of adversity” would set Nissan apart from competitors who all positioned their CUVs as versatile family vehicles, communicated in a warm, folksy tone.

EXECUTION | “Winter Warrior” launched nationally in January 2014 with a TV spot, supported by a $1 million annual spend. It cast winter as the villain, with snowmen attacking people and cars in city streets. The look and feel of a Hollywood blockbuster film trailer was amplified with behind-the-scenes social media interviews with the evil snowmen and the heroic Rogue driver. For the 2015 winter, a new execution, “Icy Bridge,” featured the Nissan Murano and ran alongside existing “Winter Warrior” creative. The 2016 winter campaign followed a similar pattern.

RESULTS | Sales over the three months in 2014 increased 77% versus the prior year. The Rogue sales target for the year was exceeded by early September and the total sales for the calendar year set what was then a record for the model. In January 2014, Rogue’s share leapt to a monthly high of 8.9%, and it broke its share record in every subsequent month. Its share increased to 8.8% in 2015 and then to 9.1% for the Nissan fiscal year ended March 2016. Sales for Murano followed a similar pattern. The campaign was picked up and used as the CUV campaign for the U.S. – the first time for a Canadian-originated Nissan campaign.

CAUSE & EFFECT | Throughout the campaign period, Nissan underspent its main category competitors. Rogue was not the least expensive and there were no significant distribution changes during the period, nor any unusual or overly generous promotions.

Client: Nissan
Director of marketing | Steve Rhind
Senior marketing manager | Mary McNeill
Agency | Juniper Park\TBWA
CCOs | Terry Drummond, Alan Madill, Barry Quinn
Group CDs | Rodger Eyre, Gerald Kugler
ACD | Susie Lee
Copywriter | Marco Buchar
AD | Leo Gonzalez
Planner | Josh Hansen
Agency producers | Nadya MacNeil, Janice Bisson
Head of client services | Calvin Daniels
Production house | Radke Films
Director | Leigh Marling
DOP | Chris Soos
Executive producer | Miriana DiQuinzio
Line producer | Ed Callaghan
Editing house | Saints Editorial
Editor | Ross Birchall
Animation house | The Embassy
Animation director | Winston Helgason
Music house | Eggplant
Music director | Adam Damelin
Online facility | The Vanity
Transfer | Alter Ego