Nissan Enlists T.J. Smith For Sentra Sing-Along

Nissan has has taken singing in the car to another level, tapping YouTube car-singing sensation T.J. Smith to star in a video of him doing his thing, but with a twist. 

In the new long-form video, taking off from a 30-second TV spot in which Smith drives around the city in a Nissan Sentra singing full out, he serves as a driver-for-a-day for Internet car service Lyft. In the video he picks up customers in a Sentra, then cranks Billy Idol’s cover of Tommy James’ "Mony Mony" and starts belting it out. His passengers get into it (at least the ones filmed via lipstick cameras.) The video, and especially the TV spot, showcase the Sentra's NissanConnect Technology and Bose Premium Audio system. 



While the phenomenon of brands hiring YouTube celebs to do ads is not new, it is Nissan’s first time participating in such a collaboration. The obvious benefit is that not only does one get the performer, one also gets his or her fans. "That was a qualifier," Rob Robinson, Nissan social media manager, tells Marketing Daily, "finding someone really influential on YouTube. [Smith] is about self-styled comedy but this car singing gig has really resonated." 

Erich Marx, director of Nissan interactive and social media marketing, says the idea came about when the company sought to do a Sentra TV commercial that involved something new and innovative. "Sentra is a vehicle geared to a younger demographic so we decided this was a good move. [AOR TBWA\Chiat\Day] said 'check out this guy' and we went through a list of about 100 songs and landed on the Tommy James [and the Shondells] song." He says the company was encouraged when it tested strongly for likability. 

"Nowadays, social media is technically free, but what's not free is how far the bar has been raised on content; you have to do something bigger, better, different, edgy and breakthrough," says Marx. He adds that the agency actually has someone on staff for Nissan whose job is to sift for ascendant Web personalities -- who’s on the cusp of the 15-minute arc of fame.

"It's being a 'heat seeker'; it's looking for what's trending, what's hot. And TBWA is big and prestigious in L.A. so they get approached by agents and YouTube personalities a lot. And a lot of YouTube production is being done in converted warehouses with individual studios in L.A.. There are full-time YouTubers creating content there."

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