In a new ad sponsoring all kinds of programs, on regular and cable TV, Nissan is taking the competition by the horns. In their new ad touting their Livina 2011 (pics here), they directly attack GM, Honda and Fiat. Yes, they cite their competitors by name and even put their logos and cars in the ad.
In Brazil, this is almost unheard of. Back in the 90s Pepsi did a South American version of the coke wars. Some beer companies soon copycatted them. However, the ads were pulled quickly and I had the impression people were not impressed with such tactics.
GM for one has already sought judicial relief according to Brazilian car mag’s Auto Esporte blog page. GM entered a petition against Nissan at CONAR (the ad industry’s self-regulating national council) asking it to pull the ad. So far Fiat and Honda have not responded. As I was writing this story, the ad had been pulled (according to Brazilian economic magazine Exame’s news portal). In its official response, Nissan informs it obeyed CONAR’s determination and pulled the ad off the airways immediately. However, as Nissan points out, the public enjoyed it and the ad was seen more than 122 thousand times on-line.
In related news, Nissan is also being sued by Toyota and VW. In a previous ad promoting its Nissan Frontier pickup, Nissan attacked two unnamed competitors. This commercial was a little more subtle and didn’t name names or show competitors’ logos (at least not directly, if you pay attention you’ll see them at odd angles). However, to the Brazilian consumer it was clear that the targets were Toyo and VeeDub (according to the Brazilian car site Seminovos). As to this commercial I don’t have any news as to it being banned or not.
Of course the Livina ad is done in good humor and hits its objective. People remember it and talk about it. Nissan is almost absent from Brazilians’ mind space, so I think they are doing it in order to gain some name recognition. Up until now, Nissan ads in Brazil have been really tame and forgettable. I would also bet that what they are trying to do is beat the drums and call attention to the launch of their compact (or subcompact) model March (according to Auto Esporte) at the São Paulo Car Show, which will open its doors soon. The March is mission critical for Nissan, as it will vie against the cars that hold 50 percent of sales in Brazil (VW Gol, Fiat Uno and Palio, Ford Ka and Fiesta, Chevy Corsa and Celta, Renault Sandero and Peugeot 207, among other less remembered like Kia’s Picanto and diverse Chinese).
So what do you say of Nissan’s strategy? Smart and savvy or do such tactics backfire?