Nissan’s ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Mini-Fleet Means Business

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Would you buy a car from C3-PO? Nissan is hoping Millennials and more ‘classic’ Star Wars fans will at least think about it long enough to look at its new models. In the lead-up to Star Wars: The Last Jedi hitting cinemas on December 14th Nissan’s Star Wars tie-in is making the leap to hyperspace.

The 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show is the perfect venue for Nissan to roll out its tricked-out Star Wars: The Last Jedi-inspired models. The glowing red-and-black, sharp-winged 2018 Nissan Maxima was inspired by Kylo Ren’s TIE silencer. One of five Last Jedi-themed Nissans at the LA Auto Show, Nissan is hoping it will help people understand semi-authonomous driving assists.

Nissan - Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Los Angeles Auto Show 2017

“People understand drones and force fields,” Jeremy Tucker, VP of marketing, communications, and media for Nissan USA, tells The Verge. “People talk about brakes and airbags, but cars offer so much more these days.”

Don’t miss the Maxima Kylo Ren’s red underside lighting that mimics the character’s pulsating lightsaber. Its “mask” is a single block of milled aluminum.

Nissan Star Wars The Last Jedi Maxima Kylo Ren LA Auto Show

“Kylo Ren is such an iconic character and such a badass in the Star Wars universe,” Tucker says. “We told the stories of our models, and they told us the story they’re telling in the movie.”

Or there’s the over-the-top 2018 Nissan Rogue, designed to evoke Poe Dameron’s X-wing fighter (and some laughs). It was, by all accounts, an outstanding effort by Nissan.

A related online sweepstakes is a call of duty: “Welcome, Pilot! Are you First Order, or Resistance? Customize your Rogue, Rogue Sport, TITAN or Altima in Nissan’s exclusive Star Wars: The Last Jedi vehicle customizer, and show pride for your faction. Then, share your craft on social media, and recruit your friends!”

The customization feature on Nissan’s Star Wars-themed website allows users to personalize a Star Wars Nissan model and enter to win a free car. And it’s not all online; Nissan is also offering a “Droid Repair Bay” virtual reality experience at select dealerships in California, Texas, Connecticut, New York and Utah. Nissan is also running TV ads in heavy rotation in the U.S.

This is not Nissan’s first partnership with Star Wars. Last year, the auto brand teamed up with the appropriately named Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Nissan debuted that partnership at the 2016 LA Auto Show, as it happens, along with a custom Rogue model and a stormtrooper escort.

This year, Nissan’s Star Wars marketing is bigger and bolder. The online and in-dealership VR and highly customized LA Auto Show concept vehicles prove the brand is not going to just make weak connections between it and one of history’s most popular global franchises.

“We weren’t just going slap a logo on it. Star Wars has millions of fans, and if you piss them off, you’re done,” Nissan’s Tucker told the Hollywood Reporter.

At dealership showrooms, visitors can trial the app using Nissan’s advanced Intelligent Mobility and “See the Unseen,” stormtroopers, droids like BB-8 and C-3PO, and Star Wars spaceships interacting with the Star Wars Nissan vehicles to show off like Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, ProPILOT Assist, Blind Spot Warning, and Intelligent Around View Monitor all work.

“In our collaboration with Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we have brought ‘Retail Theater’ to Nissan showrooms and found exciting ways to engage customers with a new world of technology” stated Jeremy Tucker. “While the competition is focused on Santa Claus and red bows this holiday season, we are filling our dealerships with stormtroopers, Virtual Reality and the new Augmented Reality Experience, making the Nissan shopping experience much more fun, engaging and educational.”

The increased effort also may have been inspired by the success of the brand’s Rogue One promotion. In October, Aditya Jairaj, Nissan America’s senior marketing manager for marketing crossovers including Rogue and Rogue Sport, told us in a Q&A that the brand created a great deal of awareness with the partnership and, consequently, Nissan had “the best December ever for Rogue sales—about 40,000 units, after the Rogue One campaign.”

Fighting for The Resistance, a fleet of six X-wing starfighter replicas hovers over the Nissan stand on display for all to see.

Of course, Nissan does not expect Star Wars-branded cars to become its new bread and butter. But the brand’s eye-popping creations are drawing attention to the automaker’s other Millennial-friendly new models, such as the new 2018 Nissan Kicks and its all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

Vigorously leveraging its connection to Star Wars may give the automaker an opening to introduce the brand to young fans of the force.

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Nissan, by the way, is by no stretch the only Star Wars marketing partner. Cargo Cosmetics, for one, has teamed with the franchise and is, noteworthy enough, featuring the late Carrie Fischer in its marketing. Just the thing to get gussied up when checking out Nissan’s Star Wars mini-fleet at the LA Auto Show.

And for those who don’t get a chance to check out Nissan’s ‘Last Jedi’ cars in LA, they’ll be coming to the Detroit Auto Show in January.

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