Nissan's chief designer to star in new ads

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Needing a bridge between its March deal-of-the-week ads and its massive launch of new products that begins in June, Nissan Division will use Nissan Design International President Jerry Hirshberg as its new ad spokesman.

No mystical Japanese man. No perky terriers. Just Jerry and the sheet metal.

"Enjoy the ride" has been replaced by the bolder slogan "Driven."


A three-month run of TV commercials in rotation will feature Mr. Hirshberg, clearly identified as Nissan's chief designer, describing product attributes and design decisions Nissan used in making its vehicles. The first ads from TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., hit on April 19.

The ads are split evenly between existing products and teasers for the upcoming Xterra sport-utility vehicle, Maxima sedan and Frontier Crew Cab pickup.

"Jerry reeks of credibility and genuineness," said Mike Seergy, Nissan Division general manager. "He's not your typical corporate executive. You can't script him. Jerry completely drew [focus groups] into the products, about what Nissan is all about."

Mr. Seergy feels that bringing a designer's perspective into the ads will make people understand where Nissan products come from.

The hope is the Hirshberg-starring ads will bring a new enthusiasm about Nissan to consumers, who have been barraged by pricing ads this year and whimsical but muddled messages from the "Mr. K" branding campaign before that.

The initial launch ads starting in late June will begin with Mr. Hirshberg talking, but quickly will transition to product-only spots.

Mr. Rechtin is a staff reporter for Automotive News.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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