Behind the Brand: Nissan’s Platform of Thrilling Consumers at Every Turn

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During the Brand Innovators 10th Anniversary Day One livecast, marketing executives from Nissan shared insights about the implementation of this new brand message, and the brand’s commitment to data-driven marketing. 

In January 2020, members from all different facets of The Nissan Motor Company spent two days at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, examining and redefining the established brand. Employees from manufacturing, design, marketing, and more discussed the history of the Nissan, the brand’s current trajectory, and the future of the car. At the end of the two day workshop, they came to a unanimous conclusion on the guiding principle of the brand. 

“On our best day, Nissan is about thrilling people at every turn,” said Allyson Witherspoon, Chief Marketing Officer at Nissan U.S. “Not just from a brand, marketing and consumer communication standpoint, but what does that mean for our engineers, manufacturing, or corporate communications. The pandemic helped us focus and rally around that thrill factor and buckle down and start to roll this out across everything that we’re doing. The execution of what we did changed. Similar to every brand, we adjusted and pivoted, but for us, it allowed us to be much more singularly focused and get into rolling out and solidifying this thrill platform that we had.”

During the Brand Innovators 10th Anniversary Day One livecast, marketing executives from Nissan shared insights about the implementation of this new brand message, and the brand’s commitment to data-driven marketing. 


This new platform of thrilling consumers echoes throughout all aspects of the brand – from external messaging and consumer touchpoints to internal corporate culture. “We wanted this message of thrilling people at every turn not to be just an external message but also something we embrace internally, so we launched ‘Thrill Workshops’ with every single function – HR, corporate communication, sales,” said Yetunde Faparusi, Senior Manager, Brand Strategy, Nissan U.S. “We had Thrill Workshops with every one of these work groups, and we talked them through exactly what the thrill platform represents, Nissan’s brand history, and what it is that makes us a thrilling brand.” 

Rob Cross, Director of Precision Marketing, Activation & Marketing Science at Nissan U.S., focuses his energy on using data to enhance creative execution and integration across channels, as Nissan rallies around this new brand positioning. Cross embraces a strategy of test & learn while also utilizing feedback loops in order to plan campaigns, measure campaigns, and optimize campaigns.

“Where it gets really interesting is when we start to talk about the way we measure,” said Cross. “It has been a really interesting evolution over the last three years. We’ve moved from an observed reporting of our campaigns to a more predicted foresight thinking in terms of helping marketing and executive leadership make the decisions that will drive the business growth in the future. We build out a full-funnel measurement framework top to bottom in terms of how we engage with consumers.”

This data and full-funnel measurement played a role in the launch of the Nissan Sentra in March 2020 and the Nissan Rogue last summer. For both 360 campaigns, the marketing team leveraged social media and digital platforms to tell their story, while also measuring the campaign from a data perspective. Nissan’s newest brand ambassador, actress Brie Larson is helping to tell this transformational story of thrilling consumers and not compromising. 

Over the past few decades, the Nissan brand has undergone several transformations in messaging before landing on this new platform. “Part of the challenge that marketers face is the propensity to change,” said Witherspoon. “Throughout our history, we have adapted and changed, which creates an unknown perception of our brand. We wanted to make sure that we leaned into the skeptics, and showed them our data. Yetunde led our qualitative and quantitative research. We wanted this strategy to be based on research, data, and unmet needs from consumers.”  

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