Getting the Z
2009 was a difficult year for car companies. WhybinTBWATequila, working with Nissan, needed to deliver a campaign that would create intrigue, drive awareness and deliver on engagement and brand experience for a range of cars of legendary proportions.
The Nissan Z sports car line dates back to the 240Z, launched in 1969. If you have followed the history of the Z, you will know that from the original 240Z subsequent models morphed into grand tourers, and away from its focused, sports car roots. Then, in 2003, the 350Z was launched, which was the vehicle that announced the reinvigoration of the new Nissan and was a vehicle that echoed the philosophy of the 240Z.
The Z range has a very strong and passionate following – its customers are enthusiasts and follow the evolution of the Z with anticipation. The Z put Nissan on the map as a serious contender in the sports car segment and solidified the company as a premium sports car maker.
For Nissan, 2009 represented one very significant milestone – the launch of the all-new sixth generation Z, the 370Z Coupe.
Campaign: 370Z Coupe
The task was to create a campaign strategy to support the latest product within the Nissan Z Range. But at the time Australian car sales had dropped by 22%, making it an especially tough time to sell sports cars.
Any creative campaign needed to communicate a great deal of information, including the heritage of the Z range and the primary brand of Nissan. An additional obstacle was that the new 370Z wasn’t available in Australia until six months after the global launch in the US.
Nissan Australia wanted to generate and maintain interest in the new 370Z within Australia from the time of the ‘reveal’ at the LA Auto Show in November 2008 through to the Melbourne Motor Show in May 2009. But six months is a long time to keep people interested.
Coupled with these challenges was the requirement that Australian web traffic must be kept in Australia – Z enthusiasts were not to visit US sites to explore the 370Z, to ensure that customers would gain accurate information on product specs and expectations could be met.
In order to keep interest high over the six months, WhybinTBWATequila designed a program to capture expressions of interest from prospective purchasers. Their task was to convert these prospects into pre-launch sales orders.
The agency first identified the target audience for the 370Z. He is an intelligent, self-confident, single business professional in his mid-30s, with an income that allows him to splurge on toys. He thinks of himself as a winner who is both inwardly and outwardly competitive, and has the latest technology. The target male loves the youth, vitality and rebellion a sports car represents and has the ego to match.
WhybinTBWATequila discovered that the target audience were extremely heavy consumers of the internet and the outdoors, and that they liked being surrounded with the latest entertainment gadgets, as this gives them the power to control when and how they are entertained.
Keeping up with the latest games is also very important and, as a result, they are more likely to own games consoles such as a Nintendo Wii or a PlayStation. For the target audience it appeared that they trusted the internet and responded to advertising online more than most.
So the creative strategy was designed to focus predominantly on the digital channel and if something that catches their interest is due to launch in six months’ time, they will wait.
The agency also discovered that the target market looks for information about cars and they are happy to forward these details on to friends.
WhybinTBWATequila identified a sub-group within the target audience and termed this group the ‘Innovators’ – seekers of information and not afraid to share what they’ve learned. For this group, knowledge is a status symbol and they enjoy people looking to them for advice.
Engagement and brand experience were key objectives of the campaign, so WhybinTBWATequila developed a highly integrated pre-launch and launch digital campaign strategy using several digital channels. The strategy also had a strong focus on Nissan’s three brand pillars of ‘Design, Performance and Innovation’.
The execution included the building of m-sites, widgets, interactive banners, eDMs, a degree of social media, downloads and augmented reality.
During phase one of the campaign, a CRM strategy was developed to ensure interest was maintained and the audience were provided with enough information to keep them intrigued throughout the lengthy pre-launch period through to the launch and beyond, ensuring that the conversation continued well after the launch of the 370Z into the marketplace.
This CRM strategy had to acquire prospects, deliver compelling content and continue to engage.
There were various channels where WhybinTBWATequila acquired prospects and data throughout the pre-launch campaign including dedicated areas on the Nissan site and the building of an m-site.
A specific website that asked customers to provide 370 reasons ‘to wait for the 370Z’ was established, encouraging enthusiasts to sign up for more information. The incentive to sign up was also strengthened by a competition to win the first 370Z in the country.
The agency also used display advertising to capture a prospect’s data, by targeting activity in selected lifestyle and motoring sites – directing traffic through to 370Z Reasons site.
The plan was to build anticipation. Three times a day, a new piece of content – videos, images, sound and text – was released giving a reason to wait for the 370Z, continuing to build its legend.
To control the flow of information, the agency also developed a widget for enthusiasts. Through the widget the target audience could decide how much information they would receive.
eDMs were sent bi-weekly to the enthusiast database and the hand-raisers, with the content continuing to deliver vital information for those looking forward to the Z experience. Key milestones such as the Melbourne Motor Show were communicated to prospects to keep them warm and it offered a click-through to arrange a test drive.
Phase two represented the launch of the 370Z, and it prompted prospective purchasers to take the car for a drive. The objective was to generate excitement, engage the user in the brand experience and prompt prospects to book a test drive and ‘take the wheel’.
WhybinTBWATequila targeted car enthusiasts and encouraged them to explore, interact and take a virtual spin in the 370Z. The idea was to meet the prospects halfway by bringing the experience to them – so a wheel was sent to them in the mail.
The wheel directed prospects to a unique website, where they could take the 370Z for a virtual spin. The ‘Take the Wheel’ idea intrinsically integrated the DM and digital channels to create a bigger, more involving consumer experience.
Augmented reality (AR) was developed to help further engage prospects and encourage them to purchase via giving them an innovative and engaging brand experience. AR is the technique of overlaying graphics on a real-world image so the graphics enhance and contextualise the scene. Most of the techniques today are generated using a computer’s webcam. Users point out a ‘target’ – a black and white image that the AR application uses to determine the scene geometry. Users can view it coming to life on a computer screen by holding it in front of the camera or shooting it with a mobile device.
In addition to encouraging prospects to take the car for a ‘virtual spin’ via their DM packs, banner ads were created that encouraged click-through to augmented reality experience.
The website established to ask customers to provide 370 reasons ‘to wait for the 370Z’ encouraged a total of 2117 competition registrations.
The delivery rate of the eDMs was at 96%. The content of the m-site changed daily, keeping up a constant supply of information in a drip feed. The open rate sat at 44%, which was considered excellent due to the highly qualified audience. The click-through rate remained consistently high at 32%, indicating content appeal. There was less than a 1% unsubscribe rate.
At the close of Phase one, there were more than 15 pre-order sales and enquiry increased dramatically. There was a database full of solid leads and engaged and intrigued prospective clients.
In-banner data-capture functionality was also used to also capture expressions of interest:
- The results were Medium Rectangle banner (MREC) – click-through rates (CTR) 0.17% (industry average is 0.13%)
The results were astonishing with:
- leaderboard: 0.58% CTR (smashing industry average of 0.13%), and
- MREC – 0.13% CTR.
From the trackable results it was clear that 15 people from the campaign have purchased a 370Z. This places the market share at 9.9%, and Nissan forecast to overachieve its budget.
At the height of the campaign, demand was running at around 20 orders a week – that’s the equivalent of one month worth of sales for its predecessor, the 350Z.