Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Manufactured by Nissan

In a new campaign for the Sentra, Nissan gets a guy to live in his car for 7 days. The campaign is inspiringly called, "7 days in a Sentra".

(For full disclosure purposes, I'm currently consulting for the ad agency that created this campaign though I didn't work on this particular campaign.)

The campaign includes a blog as well as some other online elements. The trades have covered it and it's already gotten some bad reviews from bloggers. Overall, I think the main criticism is that this feels contrived and forced, like your grandfather sporting a threadless t-shirt at the family reunion. At first, I would agree. This stinks of corporate America tredding on the territory of quirky stunts usually done by kids with too much time on their hands (Mascot Roommate for Coffee Bean is another example). There's a sense of disingenuousness in the air, begging the question of "Well how hard is it to live in a car for 7 days if you have an entire company behind you?"

And then I started thinking about it. The language of marketing has changed. Consumers shrug off phrases like, "More horsepower than...", "Class leading legroom", or "Oh what a feeling...". You can't simply force feed your brand messages down their throats. You have to engage consumers with something interesting, something entertaining.

Yes, I think this campaign is contrived but that's exactly what it's meant to be, something artificially created to start a conversation with the consumer. If I were shopping for a Sentra and if I were given the choice of watching a boring video of the interior or this... well, I rather watch this. I rather be entertained or at least challenged/given the option to be entertained than given the same boring spiel. Sure, I know the guy probably had it easy for 7 days but I'm not taking it too seriously. I'm suspending disbelief and going along for the experience, like watching 24.

I like this idea. Like the Honda Element & Friends campaign (the crab that says, "I pinch"), this shifts the way car companies talk about their products and doesn't just toss marketing one liners at you.


Chad said...

Ken - You mention that this campaign "starts a conversation". Isn't it ironic that you can't even leave a comment on the blog they created? Some conversation :). Thanks for the link!

Ken said...

I've been told the comments will be turned on. I'm not sure how much it'll be moderated. Hopefully, not too much but unfortunately, I'm not connected to this campaign.