Nissan Adopts Urgent Marketing Message: We're Fuel Efficient

As Gas Prices Rise, Carmaker Looks to Drive Home Economy Theme

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Nissan North America intends to pound a fuel-economy message in national ads during the next six months, even pushing the message of an electric car that few retailers have seen yet.

"We have a strong MPG story to tell, and we want to get it out quickly," Jon Brancheau, VP-Nissan marketing, told Automotive News. "The dealers are saying, 'Let's go. Let's get the message out now.'"

The urgency comes as gasoline prices rise above $4 a gallon in some markets. The TV-advertising push will take two paths for the next four to six months, Mr. Brancheau said. One campaign will promote the Nissan Leaf electric car, a model Nissan introduced last December but has been slow to deliver. Through March, only 500 Leafs had been delivered in a few markets.

That's changing, Mr. Brancheau said. Last month the company vowed to halve the wait time for the car and to begin delivering Leafs by the thousands.

The TV spot shows a series of round objects resembling a zero, which the ads link to "zero gasoline." Among the images is the naked stomach of a very pregnant woman. Mr. Brancheau said that image proved polarizing in recent focus groups, but drew an overwhelmingly positive response from female viewers. A more direct second TV spot shows consumers having their money sucked into a fuel pump and pushes Nissan's most fuel-efficient vehicles.

That ad campaign originated in Nissan's new dealer ad association program, which was launched April 1. In about 150 markets, Nissan dealers are chipping in $150 to $200 per vehicle to increase TV exposure. Mr. Brancheau's national ad team directed the creative work on the spot.

Mr. Brancheau said the fuel-efficiency campaign originally was intended to run on an association-by -association basis, but there is now enough demand for the spots to run them nationally.

Lindsay Chappell is a writer with Automotive News.
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