Nissan Unveils Shift In New Advertising Campaign

Nissan North America Inc. will launch new advertising this fall with the hopes of building the brand and boosting the fortunes of a product line that includes the reintroduction of the classic Z-series sports car as well as existing and new models.

The “Shift_” campaign asks consumers to take a new look at a bold, new Nissan that has emerged, said Steve Wilhite, VP marketing at Nissan North America. The Japanese automaker, third behind Toyota and Honda in the U.S. market, has been retooling every aspect of its business, from financial to product development to marketing. The “Shift_” effort arose after Nissan and TWBA/Chiat/Day LA was asked to come up with a unified branding message.

The top level of Nissan was happy with the advertising of its models but less enamored of the overall branding. Nissan had been using “Driven” since 1998, but executives felt that and other slogans didn’t capture Nissan’s fun and excitement, Wilhite said.

“We never used the tag lines as a creative brief or as a foundation to build the brand on,” he said.

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“They wanted one brand, one voice, everywhere in the world,” said Rob Schwartz, TWBA/Chiat/Day’s global creative director. “We came up with a global thought: Shift_.” Its premise is built around this message: “A shift can change a person, a life, the world or it can simply change the way you move through it.”

The message is altered slightly in the parts of the world where Nissan does business. In Japan, it’s “Shift_The Future.” In Europe, it’s “Shift_Expectations.” In the United States, the “Shift_” is everything from expectations to desire, dreams to passion. The message will shift depending on its branding and the positioning of the model Nissan is promoting.

“Some people think of it as a tag line,” Wilhite said. “It’s really much more important than that to us. It’s a wonderful way for us to talk about our brands and our cars.”

The new ads will kick off Sept. 4 with television spots and a mix of print, outdoor and Web, said TWBA/Chiat/Day Media Director Richard Rivera. The TV buys include fast-paced, image and music-driven spots along with other, slower-paced ones that use still photography in a documentary-style. Some of the magazine ads, three-page layouts built around the Z, were shot in black-and-white using fashion, sports and other non-automotive photographers for a distinctive look.

Both branding and product messages will be mixed throughout the placement instead of just a branding message at the opening, he said.

“There will be a lot of pieces of eye candy but it’s all coming from the same store,” Schwartz said.

The new look, print and broadcast ads, and the new Z and two sport-utility vehicles, were unveiled at a party Wednesday night at Eyebeam Gallery in the Chelsea section of lower Manhattan. The party drew about 100 Nissan and TWBA/Chiat/Day employees plus executives from magazines and networks.

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