Nissan's Agency Details Online Branding Success

Nissan Rogue

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Nissan has been experimenting in digital advertising and promotions for years, according to Kristi Vandenbosch, president at Tequila USA, one of the automaker's ad agencies.

Vandenbosch kicked off the OMMA Global Hollywood conference on Tuesday with a case study of the Rogue campaign as well as the launch of the Nissan 370Z, which had practically a zero budget.

The Nissan Rogue advertising campaign hit the ground running with a series of viral videos dubbed the "Maze Master," a quirky wooden tilt-board game, and sponsorship for the "Heroes" TV show.

The Rogue campaign took consumers through an online journey creating several viral clips. "Maze Master II" showed a close-up of the game on the front seat of a car. The main driver and backseat driver played the game by making hairpin turns in a Nissan Rogue. The turns caused the marble to traverse the maze and drop into the game's holes. The maze tied into a vision of the car driving down city streets surrounded with skyscrapers.

The campaign's results were so successful they even surprised Vandenbosch, she said. In four weeks, the YouTube videos were viewed more than 200,000 times. Both "Maze Master" videos were seen so many times that Yahoo editors placed them on the front page, and later voted them among the top viral videos.

The term "2008 Nissan Rogue" ranked No. 7 in search on Yahoo in October. In six weeks, the game had been played more than 335,000 times on "Many car dealerships were starting to see waiting lists to buy the car, which they hadn't seen in quite some time," Vandenbosch said.

Nissan and Tequila worked with Electronic Arts to unveil the car in a video game. They also produced a series of episodic videos that were the backstory of one of the characters in the game. Six films were distributed on and other channels such as YouTube.

Tequila also took the Z car on tour across the country, stopping at car clubs along the way to allow them to experience the new 370Z for the first time. A deal with Sports Illustrated put the car in the magazine for pittance. The videos have been seen more than 800,000 times in the last few weeks. Apps for Apple's iPhone also aimed to lure gamers to the car.

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