Brand: Nissan Versa
Link: Click Here
Target: Reluctant mini-car buyers
A campaign with several executions. The reviewed spot starts with a large man jammed into a tiny car. “It’s too small – car’s too small,” he says. We see him breathing into a paper bag as he hyperventilates. The voiceover says, “Auto claustrophobia – it’s taken a devastating toll. But its days are numbered,” At this point the action freezes into black and white and the voiceover announcer walks onscreen. “… thanks to the Nissan Versa. Versa treats small car symptoms with best-in-class interior space.” The seen shifts to the same tall man inside a versa where he has room to breath. “Now this is roomy!” he exclaims and we see an exterior shot of the car driving past wide open plains. “Versa lets you be carefree and handsfree with bluetooth technology,” the announcer says as the big man whistles happily and remarks “I like that” to the bluetooth comment. “Versa will help you take control of auto claustrophobia today.” At this point the man crumples up his paper bag and tosses it into the back seat. Then we see him spinning around while holding a puppy in a field of flowers holding a puppy. A title “Nissan Versa, 36mpg” appears. The spot ends with the voiceover announcer saying, “Ask a Nissan Dealer if Versa is right for you,” and the Nissan Shift 2.0 logo.
It is more than a little ironic that the much-disliked and often-criticized direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising genre allows Nissan to create this spunky and effective little campaign for its new micro-car Versa. This spot does an excellent job of parodying the breathless, melodramatic tone of DTC advertising (our favorites were the ads for ‘restless leg syndrome’) while showing the high points of a new car class to American consumers. The deadpan voiceover, over-acting sufferer and freeze-action misery shots all contribute to the authenticity of the satire. Two more moments we particularly like in this spot are the logo shot for the Nissan Versa which says, “Nissan Versa 36mpg” and the final shot of the man holding up a puppy and spinning around in a field of flowers. The logo shot looks exactly like a pharmaceutical name and dosage and the puppy shot is a dead-on parity of Claritin commericals (Claritin is an allergy drug).
The heavy lifting this spot needs to perform is twofold. Although tiny cars are the norm in most of the world, the genre is virtually unknown in the U.S. outside of the Mini. The Mini is sold through BMW dealerships, is not cheap and has cult status. It has ended up with more of a performance reputation (for precise handling), so it has not firmly established the micro-car category in the minds of ordinary economy car buyers. The other entries in this category, the Honda Fit, Scion Xa and Toyota Yaris are all new and struggling to establish themselves in the consumers mind.Â In addition to building the category, Nissan needs to position the Versa as the category leader.
This advertising blog believes Nissan does an excellent job of creating the brand positioning of ‘Smart and Spacious’ for the Versa by showing that class leading technology like bluetooth can be integrated into a small package and that a big guy can fit in a small car. Bluetooth integration is a small product feature but one that perfectly proves out the brand positioning.Â The space issue is obviously the thrust of the entire spot and it is relatively effective although we think the object may be to elicit unbelieving reactions which are satisfied by a dealer visit.Â Consumers may still be surprised when they step into these cars and realize that there is literally no trunk space (the rear seat converts to storage space), but it will at least engage them with the category. And the category benefit of high gas mileage and low price will be interesting to thrifty consumers who cannot afford a Prius.
The shot selection, pacing and casting for this spot are all excellent. And we are happy to see that Nissan is pooling it out into a campaign which follows the model of this spot closely.
There is some danger that the parody might overwhelm the message in this spot. It really is enjoyable to watch this spot just for the well-earned dig it takes at pharma advertising. But if consumers fail to realize that they’re seeing the emergence of a new class of car on American roads the campaign will have failed. We don’t think this is a huge problem, but it is one to track.
Branding Bottom Line:
Nissan gives us the cure for small car blues – now what can they do for our bursitis?