Nissan Skips Super Bowl for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cameo

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Brand managers kept Nissan out of last month’s Detroit Auto Show and Sunday’s Super Bowl TV lineup, but they’re doing plenty of other things to make sure the company capitalizes on its increasingly strong performance in the U.S. auto market.

For several months, Nissan could rely on buzz about its Leaf all-electric vehicle to supply marketing energy behind the overall brand. But now that Leaf is on the market, the Nissan brand is moving into the next phase, as the American arm of the Japanese automaker tries to close the gap with its relatively stagnant main rivals, Toyota and Honda.

The biggest marketing gambit for Nissan — its sponsorship of the upcoming Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.[more]

Nissan bought a four-page spread in the special issue, called “Model vs. Model” and featuring swimsuit models matched with Nissan models. Readers of the February 15 issue will be able to vote online for consideration of the contestants for next year’s swimsuit special.

Meanwhile, Nissan also is trying to extend the success of its red-shoed Juke owner who, in recent TV ads, performed heroically in getting doughnuts to the morning staff meeting just in the nick of time. “Choose Your Adventure” (a tagline that got Chrysler in hot water a few years ago) has the character, Kowalczyk, again heading to the doughnut shop – but now it’s in an interactive movie where viewers get to choose his next move.

Nissan is proving there is more than one way to make a marketing splash with American car buyers.

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