Nissan to Ad Agencies: "It Takes Brass Balls to Sell Cars!"

nissan to ad agencies it takes brass balls to sell cars

Nissan’s U.S. sales boss delivered some Glengarry Glen Ross-style “motivation” to its ad agencies in order to pump up the brand’s weak messaging via a new campaign.

Christian Meunier, who took control of Nissan’s U.S. sales and marketing in January, dressed down a roomful of agency reps a week into his new job, according to Automotive News (via Ad Age).

The automaker’s dedicated ad unit, consisting of a number of Onmicon agencies, was told by Meunier that their ideas were utter crap. Or, in his words:

“I challenged them. I locked them in a room for a week in New York, and came back after a week and it was still shit. I came back after two weeks and it was still shit.”

You can catch flies with honey, but it doesn’t seem to do much for marketing materials. Nissan’s new ad campaign, which will hit consumers in May, came about after Meunier delivered an Alec Baldwin-worthy ultimatum.

“I said, ‘You guys better deliver something. You’d better come to Nashville next week with a plan that works.’ And they came back with a very good plan.”

The Nissan Motor Company hasn’t fallen on hard times. Its sales have risen every year since the depths of the recession, hitting nearly 1.5 million in the U.S. last year.

That’s isn’t the problem, however.

The problem, Meunier told the reps, was that people don’t really know what Nissan is all about. It isn’t the fun-loving, perpetually adolescent Honda, or the respectable, slightly stodgy Toyota. In marketing terms, Nissan suffers from weak brand identity.

The ad campaign crafted by the unit’s members — no doubt with shirt sleeves rolled up and brows beaded with perspiration — is currently in the consumer test phase. Dealers also get a say before it goes live.

What will the ads contain? Well, besides the brand’s lineup of sedans and SUVs … no one knows. But if it pleased a guy like Meunier, it has to be above par.

It had better be.

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  • Seth1065 Seth1065 on Mar 30, 2016

    Well to be fair , no one may know who they are and maybe they do not either but their sales are up , I am sure there are a number of auto companies who would be very happy to be Nissan. Maybe they are/ will be the car company that rules the Latino market and that is not a bad place to be in the US. I am sure VW for one would love to have this problem.

  • Amancuso Amancuso on Mar 30, 2016

    I don't like any of Nissan's US offerings. My Dad however is a Nissan aficionado due to a 300ZX he loves. Thats a great sports car but the Murano he had was a huge pile of crap that rusted from the inside out, and the Rogue he replaced it wth, well the less said about that, the better.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
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  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.