Nissan shows off design innovation in a space age lab

The automaker goes beyond the function of its tech advancements to show drivers why its worth getting excited about.


Nissan is coining the idea of “Thrillology” as a way to tout the excitement that comes from performance innovations the automaker has achieved across its different models.

A futuristic sci-fi lab dubbed “The Institute of Thrillology” debuts in a new ad that highlights different innovations, be they in engine performance, safety features or in-vehicle entertainment. The concept is also meant to be adaptable to any model or vehicle category Nissan operates in, says Ken Hearn, the automaker’s Canadian director of marketing.

This summer, the automaker began a shift in strategy with a campaign that broke away from focusing on specific new models or priority categories. Instead, it took more of a masterbrand approach that showcased sedans alongside utility vehicles, as well as high-performance motorsport.

Hearn says this new campaign is about taking that strategy to the next step: injecting excitement and thrills into everything Nissan does.

“Everything we are doing in Canada is surrounded by the word ‘thrill,’” Hearn says.

This includes a recent motorsport experiential activation, in which the automaker had a “Thrilling Lab” wind tunnel, where people could volunteer to be testers and sit in vehicle seats while hooked to a monitor to test their “thrill levels,” enticing 1,600 participants over two and a half days.

“We really wanted to elevate our retail campaigns to be more than just the offer,” says Alannah David-Clark, senior manager of marketing communications at Nissan Canada. It’s not just about showing consumers how innovative Nissan’s tech is, but why they should be excited by it, and making it a “more rounded out story.” That includes showing vehicles that are “real world,” but that also have the same tech as what is found on the track.

David-Clark tells strategy that a lot of people don’t know about features vehicles like the base model Sentra has, and as a brand it has to bolster awareness against a lot of companies with far more entrenched brand legacy in the Canadian market.

“Overall awareness of the brand has increased, and we have seen these numbers rise over the last couple of quarters,” she says. The “thrill” concept is super modular, she explains, featuring three vehicles. But as it moves to winter, it is adaptable.

The campaign was created in collaboration with Nissan United, Juniper Park\TBWA’s integrated bespoke agency team for Nissan.

David-Clark says it’s always testing new platforms and that it will be across new social platforms and it continues to test on Google and YouTube, and has new units for the latter to drive lower funnel KPIs.

The national campaign launched earlier this month on TV and social. It will launch on digital and in-store Oct. 1 and will be in market for the next year. Ad spend, David-Clark says, is “consistent” with past efforts. OMD handled the buy.