Nissan Taps Fastest Man For Global Push

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Nissan is asking the question "What if?" Actually the line is "What if_” -- an important distinction, given that it aligns with the company's global "Shift_" theme that it is still using on the corporate side, although the U.S. marketing arm has backed away from it. 

The rhetorical question is central to a new global campaign that will roll out over the next two to three years in support of Nissan’s “Power 88” business plan to invest in new markets, products and technologies. 

The campaign takes emotional hooks and futurist technology-focused content and swirls it in a bucket of primary colors. That is also important to note as Nissan has been using a primary-color palette in its creative executions since it launched the Leaf electric car last year. 

The campaign, via TBWA Worldwide, asks things like “What if your car could clean the air?”; “What if your car could charge your house?”; and “What if a car could make life better?” 

Nissan says the central element of the global technology-focused campaign is airport media domination in 40 countries. The effort also brings in Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to tout the new version of Nissan’s GT-R sports car. Much of the creative makes a point about technology as a proxy for nature by employing a striking diptych-style visual motif with panels offering apposite themes on opposite primary-color backgrounds. Nature (including human nature) is on one panel, and Nissan's innovation is on the other. 

One ad, for example, shows a bright red cardinal, wings outspread on a white panel, which is beside a red panel featuring Nissan's navigation screen touting the bird's eye view feature, which somehow shows the car from 20 feet up (I never could figure out how that technology works.) The headline asks, "What if _ you could park with a bird’s-eye view?"   

Another of the ads for the global launch of the new GT-R sports car shows Bolt on the red panel and his red GT-R against the white panel. The copy says, "What if the world's fastest man went even faster?"

While the "What If_" campaign started in April at Japan’s Narita and Osaka airports, the relationship with Bolt kicked off June 1, and the campaign will soon begin expanding to other markets. Bolt will also be featured in online elements for the GT-R. Nissan on June 1 is also launching a global Facebook page at facebook.com/nissanglobal that will tout the automaker's innovations and feature behind-the-scenes video of Bolt and the car. As the campaign rolls out over the next two years there will be TV, online banners, Nissan digital sites and digital and more out-of-home locations, per the company.

As of now, per Nissan, there are 14 airports in 37 locations booked with 23 airports under negotiation.

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