Tip-Off: Infiniti Piles On Basketball Alliances

NCAA 2010 Final Tour

Infiniti's new marketing push with ESPN, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and Big Ten Conferences, launching this week, is really the second phase of a new positioning for the brand around the idea of "Inspired Performance."

The first phase was launched in January to promote Infiniti's G line of vehicles. This next chapter focuses on Infiniti's flagship M line, the new model of which goes on sale this month. But both campaigns are also an effort to reposition the brand. Kathy Roznowski, senior manager of media operations, talks with Marketing Daily about the new work and the larger strategy.

Q: How is this partnership around NCAA hoops different from what Infiniti has been doing around sports for the past couple of years?



A: We soft-launched the campaign last year with the idea that the entire thing would support "Inspired Performance." So the partnership with ESPN really started last year. But this year, the fact that we are adding college basketball, NCAA, March Madness and Final Four tournaments gives us a mass-reach opportunity. Just as importantly, we know that NCAA basketball ranks really high with our target -- it's the second-most-watched sports behind tennis for Infiniti -- so it's not just about having mass reach. We also integrated this year for the first time with the National Association of Basketball Coaches to tie in to the idea of inspired performance.

Q: Is the campaign mostly focused on the M line of cars or is it more about the brand?

A: It's first about the brand, and if you saw some of the new work for our G line of cars, which launched in January around the ESPN Saturday games, that's really where we first started to bring out the new message, and we integrated it with openers featuring coaches talking about their own examples of inspired performances.

Q: But what about the new car? How are you using the platform to talk about the M?

A: We will have three different phases of creative. When we launch it around the tournament, the whole first week will include a lot of impressions around the car, where we introduce it and tie it contextually to basketball. We will show the car and the interior and tease the idea that like the game, it's a winner -- that isn't the headline of the ads, but the idea. Then as March Madness starts on the 18th, we start to shift into creative messaging more about the product and the story.

We are still tying it to basketball, but then what you see are TV spots that get deeper into the product story. The TV spots will get into a lot of the technology and design elements and how they were crafted to deliver on "Inspired Performance." You'll see much of the creative online because we can tell the deeper stories there. But you'll see it in the TV and print as well. But again, it's all about Infiniti first and then the M. But we are definitely telling that story.

Q: In terms of media, are all the eggs in the NCAA basket, so to speak?

A: We will kick it off around basketball, but we will be integrating across media. We have a full campaign continuing after the tournament.

Q: Will you be doing other integrated partnerships around other programs around complementary areas?

A: We have a new QX [SUV] coming, so we will focus on our lifestyle pillars, which include epicurean, and finance and business -- two areas that are passion points for our customers.

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