Nissan Taps Medalist For 'Innovation For Endurance'

Ryan-Lochte-Nissan-ANissan is launching the next chapter of its three-year-old, athlete-centric affinity marketing campaign, "Innovation for Endurance," with swimmer and five-time Olympic gold medalist Ryan Lochte. 

Nissan has used the ongoing “Innovation” campaign to align the idea of performance and prowess with its vehicle line, and as a channel to reach active-lifestyle consumers -- a group of people the automaker says complements the brand. The campaign has included ads, but really is about extending the brand's presence on social media, through Nissan-branded pull content centered on athlete advice: In online videos, housed principally on Facebook, the athletes give tips on how to perform better and stay healthy to fans and amateur athletes.   

The new chapter of the campaign includes a spot shot at Nissan headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. The set was the automaker's own office space. Indeed, a major theme was how to stay in shape at work, even in the restricting cubicle environment. Lochte, co-starring with his personal trainer, David Jacks, does such calisthenics and strength-building activities as curls, jumping jacks and a "prairie dog plunge," which is essentially a thigh burner whose name derives from the fact that the person doing them -- at least from the perspective of an observer standing above the sea of cubicles -- sees what looks like a human prairie dog poking his head out, up and down. 

The ongoing roster of athletes in the “Innovation for Endurance” platform includes Olympic distance runners Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher, and Ryan Hall. Originally called “Master the Shift,” the campaign began as a partnership with sports-media publisher Rodale, and has included a presence at amateur races and major professional events, such as the Amgen Tour of California bike race, and the New York Marathon. Other spokespeople who have appeared under the “Innovation” banner are Tara Stiles, author of Slim Calm Sexy and founder of Strala Yoga in New York City, and cyclist Levi Leipheimer, three-time winner of the Tour of California. Lance Armstrong was featured in the initial launch of Nissan’s electric car Leaf in 2010. The automaker says the “Innovation” Facebook page currently has more than 130,000 "likes" and 2,825 people actively discussing the site's content.

Nissan Marketing Director Vinay Shahani remarked in a making-of video for the new ad that, in addition to extolling the virtues of exercise, the point is to reach an active audience. "He's genuine, dedicated, and lines up with what we are trying to do from a marketing perspective," said Shahani. Lochte said he drives a 370Z Roadster. The automaker says he also has a 2013 Nissan Pathfinder.

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