Nissan Sponsors Music Series on Yahoo

Automaker Eyes Portal's 25 Million Unique Visitors

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DETROIT -- Nissan is getting into the music space, partnering with Yahoo Music to sponsor a series of live concerts.
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As part of Nissan North America's latest entertainment campaign, Christina Aguilera will perform free for 200 people at a co-branded sound stage on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles.




The Nissan North America brand is hoping to lure music aficionados through a multiyear sponsorship of "Nissan Live Sets on Yahoo Music" to learn more about its models and vehicle features at the same time through a link to its website.

Program launches today in L.A.

The program launches today, with Christina Aguilera performing free for 200 people at a co-branded sound stage on the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles. The automaker has interactive product displays and a branded lounge at the custom stage.

Two concerts headlined by high-profile artists will debut online every month at music.yahoo.com/nissanlivesets and will include question-and-answer sessions with audiences. Nissan is the only sponsor and will stage promotions every quarter for an additional concert that will be pitched to Nissan owners and potential buyers to attend in person.

"Music is really a powerful driver of why people spend time online," said Steve Kerho, director-media and interactive marketing at the carmaker. Yahoo offers Nissan a large, engaged audience, and "there aren't that many online properties that offer that mix," he said. Even TV doesn't always have such a high level of engagement, he said.

Yahoo's 25 million unique visitors

The demographics will vary by artists and their specific fan bases, said Kerry Trainor, senior director-video and original content at Yahoo. Yahoo Music attracts 25 million unique visitors monthly, and they watch some 350 million music videos per month.

Music legend Tony Bennett, who has gained the ears of a younger generation, will be the second featured artist, followed by alternative-rock band Incubus.

Nissan's target audience with the partnership is 18-44, although Mr. Kerho said the secondary audience is 18- to 34-year olds, whom he dubbed "very hard to get in front of, media-wise."

Yahoo pitched the idea to Nissan and other marketers, but Nissan "moved very quickly and decisively, then customized the program" with Yahoo, Mr. Trainor said. In the past, Pepsi has been a major sponsor of Yahoo's music efforts through its Pepsi Smash program.

Starting in April, Yahoo worked closely with Mr. Kerho and its media agency, OMD West, Los Angeles, to hammer out the elements -- to blend Nissan into the concert venue and "make it a Nissan experience," he said.

Improved production quality

Nissan Live Sets succeeds "Live@Yahoo Music," which also showcased A-list talent, but Yahoo wanted the next iteration to have much higher production quality. The concerts will be shot in high-definition video with Dolby 5.1 digital audio that could help could land the shows in other venues such as DVDs or even on cable TV, although there are currently no definitive plans to do so, Mr. Trainor said.

Other carmakers have played in the online music space. General Motors Corp. introduced the Pontiac Garage last June with live concerts in Times Square and Los Angeles, with online coverage on Pontiac.com and select performances on the website for ABC's talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live." SM sibling Saturn since 2004 has sponsored Yahoo Music's "Who's Next," which lets visitors vote for their favorite featured up-and-comers. A Saturn spokesman said the primary audience is 18-34.

Yahoo will distribute Flickr-enabled phones to some concert attendees to snap stills of the experience that will be uploaded to a page on the site. One fan at each performance will share his or her experience through a Yahoo blog. The site will also have artist-specific quizzes, concert archives and a Spanish-language version due in early 2007. Nissan will take a part of NissanUSA.com and "carve it off and have it live on Yahoo," so visitors don't have to leave, Mr. Kerho said.

Not about the click-throughs

Click-throughs are not the marketer's main objectives. The automaker wants visitors to learn about its models and features.

"This kind of online program with so many moving parts is complicated to put together," including signing the artists and integrating all the pieces, Mr. Kerho said.

The program sounds exciting to Charlie Hughes, president of consultant BrandRules and a former auto-industry executive, who said it's another example of marketers trying to deal with media fragmentation. "Because of fragmentation, we're back in the pioneering days and that's exciting -- both for marketers and consumers."
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