AToMiC: Nissan puts out a casting call for innovative thinkers

The car brand launches an interactive campaign that has Canadians creating its next TV commercial.

The end of the fiscal year, for the majority of car companies, is quickly approaching and while this may be the most expensive time of the year to place advertising – brands are racing to go out with a bang, Judy Wheeler, director of marketing, Nissan Canada tells MiC.

“November and December are not traditionally huge sales months,” she says. “And so, automotive companies become aggressive in their advertising. They’re going for a record either on an individual car or on a brand level.”

To name a few of the more innovatively marketed car brands this season – Mercedes-Benz recently blurred the lines between experiential and OOH, while BMW crossed platforms and later perched on its social benefits.

Though Nissan’s fiscal year ends in March, the brand still wants to be a part of the game and so it launched a Facebook and TV campaign to show how it, too, can be innovative.

Now in its second phase, the “Nissan Innovation Challenge” is an attempt by the brand to get consumers involved in its next campaign. The brand first asked Canadians, through a teaser ad created in partnership with Corus Entertainment, to submit a 140-character summary to the company’s Facebook page on what they believe the word “Innovation” means.

Wheeler says that they have gathered just over  8,000 submissions by the time the contest closed earlier this week. It is now up to herself, Tony Chapman, founder and CEO of Capital C and Jay Bertram, President of TBWA\Canada to decide which of the best 200 will make it to round three.

The finalists will be asked to create a video of their innovative idea and upload it to the Facebook Page. The videos will be voted on by fans of the page and some of the clips might find their way into Nissan commercials, created by Capital C and TBWA, to be aired during the third phase of the campaign.

In the last chapter of the contest, five finalists will be flown to Toronto to present their idea to the same panel of judges in Dragons Den-style, says Wheeler.

The whole process will be filmed and webisodes will be created and uploaded to the Facebook page. The winner with the most innovative pitch will then be given a Nissan car of their choosing and the chance to help the brand create a TV commercial set to air in February.

“I call it the voice of the customer,” says Wheeler on the idea of bringing consumers into the brand’s marketing process. “It’s really important to find out what consumers think innovation means and what better way to do that than to have them involved in the entire process.”

Ads for the campaign have and will continue to be placed by OMD Canada on specialty channels including TSN, History Channel, Discovery Channel, OWN, HGTV, YTV, Teletoon At Night, FOOD, W and Showcase, says Wheeler.

What is AToMiC? AToMiC stories are about cutting-edge advertising, technology, media and content creation. The AtoMiC conference and award show is hosted by Playback and strategy magazine. Read up on the most recent winners here.