A view from Daniele Schillaci, Nissan

How Nissan used 'intelligent marketing' to top the brand table at Rio

Audiences decide what they want to see and where.

Few events have the power to capture and command the world’s attention like international sports on the scale that we just saw at the Rio Olympics.

These high profile events offer unparalleled opportunities for companies to build brand visibility through sponsorship – and we at Nissan are pleased with the early results of our efforts in Rio.   

In all, there were 2.8 billion impressions on Twitter for Nissan Olympic specific hashtags, making us the leading automotive player on branded social platforms during the Games. We also saw 19 billion media impressions globally and 2.6 million engagements with social contact.

In addition, our social media hashtag #QuemSeAtreve (#WhoDares) was the third best performing hashtag of the Games, outperforming global sponsors.

However, sponsorship is less about these numbers and more about the business results they drive. While the return on investment from sponsorship can sometimes be hard to measure, Nissan saw an immediate impact.

Our Brazilian market share has risen by one percentage point since the Games. We also received more than 2,000 customer registrations and down payments for our new model, the Nissan Kicks, which we launched at the start of the Torch Relay – our first ever global launch of a new vehicle in Brazil.

Nissan is also sponsoring the Paralympic Games that open this week at Rio’s famous Maracanã stadium. Like the main Games, millions of viewers are expected to watch.

On the heels of the Paralympics – and several thousand miles away – Manchester City will later this month meet Mönchengladbach in the UEFA Champions League: another sporting vehicle that we sponsor, along with the Africa Cup of Nations, the International Cricket Council and a range of other sports.

Barely a decade ago, marketing and sponsorship of such events was a one-dimensional affair involving billboard, print and spot-TV advertising. Today, sports-related marketing has become a hub for all manner of creative content with multi-platform distribution, interactivity and specially commissioned video, infographics and entertainment.

In marketing terms, this summer’s sporting events represent an inflection point.

Sponsors have moved from a push form of marketing, in which they previously decided how and what form of information consumers should receive, to a pull-mechanism where audiences decide what they want to see and on what device.

This means marketing departments have to be more creative than ever before. It also means that we have to be more comprehensive in our choice of platforms and channels than ever before to deliver content to consumers and build valuable and lasting relationships with them.  

At Nissan, we saw healthy traffic for such Olympics-related marketing material. In the run-up to the Games, for example, there were almost 9 million views of Nissan's "Bolt versus flame" campaign. Similarly, we saw heavy traffic for the "SheDares" campaign to highlight the achievement of women athletes.

These major events are just one part of a global marketing effort that must become increasingly digitally-sophisticated, tailored to particular markets and customer segments.

For each demographic that we serve, companies like Nissan must communicate more intimately to build awareness of our products. Just as Nissan is focused on next-generation vehicles promising Intelligent Mobility – combining autonomous systems and connectivity – so we must also demonstrate intelligent marketing.

In an industry which has never been more competitive, marketing must work harder to deliver compelling and distinctive messaging. That is why Nissan has made the leap into content creation, including fully digitized and specially-commissioned online materials.

In short, we must take our inspiration from the athletes we just saw in Rio and be disciplined, all-around competitors – online, on mobile, on social and on traditional channels.   

While winning is far from certain, we are confident that our multi-platform, content-rich, approach in Rio and at other high-profile events has put Nissan on the right track.

Daniele Schillaci is the vice president of global sales and marketing at Nissan