Nissan wants consumers to see red—cherry red—in its new North America brand campaign and tagline, “Take On.”
Each spot in the ad campaign by TBWA\Chiat\Day features a cherry-red version of the featured vehicle—a Sentra, Altima, Maxima, Rogue, Murano or Pathfinder—in regional and national TV commercials and digital spots that underscore the technology chops of its product offerings and intend to engage the viewer with a dramatic storyline.
“Our first priority was to make the car the star,” Jeremy Tucker, Nissan’s vice president of marketing communications and media, told Automotive News. “We wanted the features to come through clearly.”
Take the campaign’s “Pop Ups” commercial. An Altima driver navigates a city filled with unexpected obstacles that literally pop up as he drives—avoiding a series of collisions-in-the-making by using his wits, driving prowess and one of Nissan’s Intelligent Safety Shield Technologies: the Forward Emergency Braking system.
The “Take on” tagline is heard in the voice-over, while the final slate features Nissan’s global tagline, “Innovation That Excites.” After the driver has dodged all manner of heart-stopping near-misses and is seen heading up a highway on-ramp past a roadworks crew, the narrator says: “Take on the unexpected with a car that could stop for you. Nissan Safety Shield Technologies. Available in the Altima, Sentra and Maxima.”
In “Rocky Road,” the action starts with an overhead shot of a coastal highway as rocks tumble down onto the road as rain turns a mountainside into a menace. The rocks assemble into creatures that attempt to block the all-wheel drive vehicle.
To get around it, the 2016 Nissan Rogue must use its Intuitive All-Wheel Drive (AWD) System, as you can watch below.
Also opening with an overhead shot of a city, the “Angry Cloud” spot features another movie-worthy dramatic scenario: A storm cloud chases a Nissan Rogue through an otherwise sun-drenched city with a fury that somehow seems personal.
The female driver must escape rain, gales of wind, sparks and other extreme threats unleashed by Mother Nature to make it safely to her destination—but no problem. The voice-over: “Take on any road with Intuitive All-Wheel Drive. The Nissan Rogue, Murano and Pathfinder.”
Nissan has been doing just fine weathering the storm too, with rising sales despite a highly competitive—and cooling—US market. Not satisfied to do “fine,” the automaker has an ambitious goal to “fuel unprecedented growth” in North America and to achieve at least a 10 percent share of new-vehicle sales in the US by March 31 of next year, up from 9.2 percent year-to-date in 2016.
As Nissan executives and their agency maestros embarked on sharpening the messaging to really feature the brand and its capabilities, specific criteria emerged for the new campaign. One of them was “no humor,” as Tucker put it. There will still be a role for Nissan’s long-running “Heisman House” college football campaign on ESPN featuring ex-jocks.
“The ads were getting kind of wacky,” Tucker commented on the insights informing the “Take On” campaign. Hence, the marching order of “zero humor” in this new campaign—but serious doesn’t mean boring, which created room for heart-pounding situations and drama, with a narrative arc that could see Indiana Jones driving a Nissan.
“We’re a serious brand with serious cars. We’re about performance, quality, and excitement—and we need to bring that to life in a powerful way,” as Tucker put it. At the same time, he added, Nissan aims to demonstrate how its highly capable models allow drivers to “take on” driving challenges such as heavy traffic and dangerous developments on the road with automated features that keep them safe.
“The message in every case is: The car performs,” he said. “The driver is confident. It’s not about feeling good. It’s not about pretty people. It’s about how Nissan will help you face the driving challenges you face every day.”
Also, Tucker told Ad Age, the new ads also had to pass the “barroom test”—namely, that they can be understood while watching at with the sound muted or with noise obscuring the audio.
“I want the stories to be so epic, so simple and so breakthrough that if I’m sitting across the room at a bar and I can’t hear the sound I know, number one, it’s Nissan, and I know, number two, exactly what the story is about.”
The campaign keeps Nissan’s “Innovation That Excites” global tagline, and Tucker believes “Take On” can work for the brand for the foreseeable future.
By focusing on existing and new automated-driving features, the campaign also will help Nissan pivot perceptually to the fast-approaching era of self-driven vehicles, which is another plus. After all, whatever Nissan is helping consumers “take on” now, drivers will be looking for even more tech expertise and assistance in the future.