So Nissan is going to junk all its individual car campaigns in
favour of an umbrella ad which will promote a global set of core values
that define the company and its products (Campaign, last week). It
sounds like a good idea. We can define Volvoness, Audiness and BMWness,
perhaps even VWness. But identifying Nissanness may be a tall order.
To date, its advertising - from the bubble car cartoons of the Micra to
the risible Primera ’it’s a driver’s car, so drive it’ (what other sort
of car could it be? ’It’s a passenger’s car, so ... er, sit in it’) -
has shown little consistency. I suspect Nissan would like to define
Nissanness around the word ’fun’ (but then we’re all allowed a little
self-delusion). The best description of Nissanness I can come up with is
’workaday’ - ie they’re OK as far as they go. A friend who owns one -
and he’s not trying to be rude - plumps for ’average’.
But even if Nissan and TBWA do define Nissanness, what good would it do
them? The quest for a unifying campaign suggests that they believe
Nissanness, in its own right, could be a sufficient trigger to
Hmmm. Do people buying a car really think ’Yes, I must own a Nissan, so
let’s see what they make in my model and price range’? No. They think ’I
want a four-door saloon for under pounds 12,000, so let’s see what’s
That’s not to say that Nissan won’t eventually find a core set of
values, but even if it did I question whether they will be sufficiently
motivating to meet Nissan’s ambition, which effectively involves turning
the purchase process on its head.
Ah ... but, they will say, isn’t that how it works for Volvo, Audi and
BMW? Maybe, but the big difference is that they are at the upper end of
the market and they are not volume marques. Of the mass-market
manufacturers only VW has really established a defining identity.
Unfortunately for Nissan, it has grabbed the only two qualities -
reliability and value for money - that it could conceivably aim for.
Perhaps the answer is for Nissan to make its national heritage the focus
of Nissanness. After all, three of the world’s biggest car companies are
Japanese, so they’re obviously good at making them.
The Sunday Times has been running a series of house ads for its business
section featuring a naked businessman climbing into his chauffeur-driven
car. ’It’s Monday. Someone didn’t read the business section,’ the ads
say in what is clearly a pre-emptive defensive strike at Sunday
It’s a bit of a puzzle though. First, very few people, not least the
paper’s own management, expect Sunday Business to be anything other than
a second read. The Sunday Times ad, therefore, plays into their
Nor is Sunday Business - with a target circulation of 80,000 business
readers in London and the Home Counties - likely to be a serious threat
to the Sunday Times’ ad revenues.
But there is one paper whose business sector ad revenues (ie IT,
business travel, phones and so on) are at risk - the Evening Standard.