Nissan is the fifth advertiser to publicly confirm Super Bowl ad plans, following Avocados from Mexico, DraftKings, FTX and TurboTax.
Automotive is traditionally one of the largest Super Bowl-spending sectors, but COVID has forced auto brands to reconsider marketing investment priorities. For the 2021 game, only three automakers bought ads —General Motors, Toyota and Jeep owner Stellantis—as regulars such as Hyundai, Audi and Kia remained on the sidelines. In recent months the industry has been challenged by microchip shortages that have severely cut into supply, forcing many brands to reduce ad spend, especially for “buy-now” sales event ads.
Ford Motor Co. CMO Suzy Deering alluded to the inventory shortage as one reason Ford won’t buy a 2022 Super Bowl ad this year. “For us, it was really about being smart with our dollars,” she said during an interview at last week’s Ad Age Next: CMO conference while mentioning the automaker’s heavy investment in regular-season NFL games.
Nissan, like other brands, has cut its retail spending, Witherspoon said, but has kept its higher-level brand marketing consistent. “We still feel like the Super Bowl is a very smart brand investment for Nissan,” she said.
Nissan’s inclusion of its electric Ariya crossover in the upcoming ad is further proof of EVs consuming more marketing dollars as automakers seek to spur demand for battery-powered cars as they pledge major investments in EVs in the years to come. The Ariya won’t go on sale until November 2022. But Nissan began taking reservations last month for the vehicle, which has a starting price tag of more than $45,000.
Nissan has been using Larson in ads since March 2020, when the actress appeared in a commercial called “Refuse to Compromise” that featured her counseling a woman against compromising in her career plans while also pitching the Nissan Sentra as not making compromises. More recently she has pitched the “new Nissan” by plugging its lineup as restoring the thrill to driving. “She really is helping us to define and really communicate about Nissan as a brand and we could not think about doing Super Bowl without her,” Witherspoon said.
The Super Bowl ad is slated to be shot this month in Los Angeles. Asked about concerns that the spread of the Omicron COVID variant could complicate shoot logistics, she said: “At this point, we are very used to all of the protocols for these on shoots,” adding that “we are taking all the precautions,” including testing.
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