After weeks of running COVID-19 response ads, Nissan is coming back to TV with some more normal marketing. A spot starring Brie Larson hits the airwaves on June 15, as the automaker seeks to spur sales dampened by the pandemic and restore the long-term image of its brand, which a top executive recently called “damaged.”
The spot from TBWA\Chiat\Day plugs the all-new Sentra. It was shot pre-coronavirus and had actually aired for a couple weeks in March. But Nissan, like all automakers, by mid-March pulled its normal ads in favor of messaging explaining how it was responding to the pandemic, including offering payment deferral plans.
“What we saw at the very beginning was demand declined immediately, and it was swift and it was deep,” says Allyson Witherspoon, VP of marketing communications and media at Nissan North America. But, as she explains on the latest edition of Ad Age’s “Ad Lib” podcast, the automaker has kept a close eye on consumer sentiment, which has been improving. “Once you started to see week-over-week improvements in some of those key digital metrics, it was clear we needed to quickly pivot.”
While the pandemic hit all automakers hard, it came at a particularly bad time for Nissan as it tries to reverse tumbling sales trends. Nissan Group’s U.S. sales fell 30 percent year-to-date through March, while its market share shrank to 7.3 percent from 9.1 percent, according to Automotive News. The redesigned Sentra is part of a new product push in the U.S. that is a key part of the automaker’s global comeback plan, called “Nissan Next.”
The ad, starring Larson. shows her counseling a woman against compromising in her career plans. She hops into a Sentra driven by the actress who tells her, “If this Nissan Sentra isn’t going to compromise, why should you.” The strategy is to portray the mid-sized sedan as offering attractive design, handling and performance at an affordable price. (The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is about $19,000, according to Nissan.)