OPINION: MILLS ON MARKETING

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.

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

purchase.



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

available.’



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

Business.



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

hands.



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.



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