NISSAN TO USE EMPLOYEES TO `PAT ITSELF ON THE BACK': `ENJOY THE RIDE' OUT AS CARMAKER BOOSTS SPENDING FOR NEW MODELS

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[san francisco] Nissan North America's next ad campaign will again put a spotlight on an employee. But this time, it won't be Mr. K.

A year after dropping its advertising based on its first U.S. leader, Yutaka Katayama, the Nissan Division plans to launch an all-new brand effort using a Nissan employee or employees.

"We're going to be talking about how good we are; we're going to be patting ourselves on the back about our products and the way we design and manufacture our products," said General Manager Mike Seergy at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here last week.

NEW TAGLINE, TOO

The new work from TBWA/ Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., also will replace the "Enjoy the ride" tagline with a new slogan. But Nissan and the agency have not finalized their decision on that, Mr. Seergy said.

In addition to product information, ads will use magazine awards and J.D. Power & Associates survey results to highlight its models.

The ads will break in April, for the launch of Nissan's new four-door Frontier pickup. Later in the spring, Nissan will begin selling the XTerra, a small sport-utility vehicle, and a redesigned Maxima sedan. A new Sentra debuts in September.

SPENDING RISES 35%

Nissan's ad budget for the next model year will be up 35% because of the new products, Mr. Seergy said. Nissan Division spent $449.4 million in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting, and $335.1 million through September of 1998.

"We have a lot of work to do in restoring our image as a company that designs and manufactures great cars," the executive said. "The new campaign will give us a platform to launch our products from."

Mr. Seergy, who took over as general manager as the Mr. K campaign was ending, commented that Nissan should have used the real Mr. Katayama in the ads rather than an actor.

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