In the first week of the campaign, Nissan sold more than 300 cars a day. The previous Micra model sold only 25,000 during an entire year. And the 1993 Micra at $10,000 cost 20% more than its staid 1992 predecessor which had been positioned as a cheap alternative for older people.
Says the team-spirited Mr. Green, previously purchasing manager for Nissan's Sunderland, England, auto plant, "All I was was a catalyst who was provocative, who challenged the conventions because I didn't know they were conventions.*.*.I was the maverick who said, why not?"
One such maverick move was to introduce the more youthful car-positioned as fun, a good value and easy to drive-without showing a single picture of the car in advertising. Instead the ads featured only a simple line drawing outlining the car's shape.
Mr. Green says that he and his marketing/advertising team decided to emphasize the unique shape because it was so different from the competition. "The thing that we kept coming back to is the shape," says the 39-year old Englishman, promoted to sales director in January as a result of his success.
A TV, newspaper and billboard campaign by TBWA Holmes Knight Ritchie broke Jan. 4 with :10 teaser commercials featuring the bubble-shaped line drawing. These b&w quirky drawings then started popping up everywhere-in the classifieds, horoscopes, weather, sports and business sections-in every type of newspaper from the working class Daily Mirror to the highbrow Sunday Times.
One crossword in the shape of the compact carried the line, "the car with all the answers." An article on what women want from sex was bordered by a small Nissan ad, headlined "Size does matter, the new 16-valve Micra. Nissan."
Newspapers were invited to come up with original places for the line drawing, finding spots where they had never sold space before; The Daily Express inserted the Micra line drawing in its "Pick of the Day" TV listings guide. And the News of the World broke with tradition and published a b&w cartoon page to accommodate a b&w Micra cartoon ad.
"We got incredibly good deals because it was good fun for them," Mr. Green says.
More importantly, the campaign created widespread pre-introductory awareness at low cost. The Japanese car company spent $7.5 million advertising the new model, versus the more typical $30 million ad budget for a U.K. car launch.
Beams the marketing exec: "We had more demand than we could supply. The [U.K.] factory became Britain's biggest car exporter as a result of the campaign."