Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nissan Rogue's Marketing Success Maze

I always love hearing case studies. Really. Must be a sickness, but there is something very cool about seeing how effective or ineffective things are within the business world, that’s why I was very intrigued when I received an email from MediaPost featuring an article entitled, Nissan's Agency Details Online Branding Success.

The article discusses some great strides by one of Nissan’s ad agencies, Tequila USA, made with a very limited budget to promote the Nissan Rogue SUV. They went the viral video route along with a video game featured on the Nissan USA website.

Two viral videos were done called “Maze Master” that featured the use of a wooden tilt-board game that was also turned into an online video game.

What’s interesting about the MediaPost article are the success claims by Kristi Vandenbosch, president at Tequila USA. The numbers just don’t ad up.

The campaign's results were so successful they even surprised Vandenbosch, she said. In four weeks, the YouTube videos were viewed more than 200,000 times.

I went on YouTube this afternoon and both videos had about 25,000 views each, putting the combined total 75% less than the claimed 200,000 views. I’m guessing the 200,000 number includes views of the videos on Nissan’s own website which really isn’t that surprising when you consider their web site has traffic going to it from all of their spend on media and search engine optimization.

"Many car dealerships were starting to see waiting lists to buy the car, which they hadn't seen in quite some time," Vandenbosch said.

Really? The sales numbers reflect a pretty steady sales volume for the Nissan Rogue. This is a good thing in a down economy where a lot of products were taking double-digit year-over-year sales hits (the Rogue only had one negative month in November with a –2.8% sales that month.) So, it looks like the car was beating the industry trend, but waiting lists? That’s pretty hard to believe based on the sales numbers and no significant jumps in sales.

Sales numbers not matching up with marketing success claims certainly isn’t news. I remember a good friend of mine at the Michigan MBA program who once told our marketing class that marketers just round to the nearest million. I just wish marketing case studies given at conferences were more reliable with their results. I’m always suspicious just as I was reading the MediaPost article today. Oh well, at least I learned something about Nissan’s marketing efforts with the Rogue and played a decent automotive video game that wasn't your atypical car race game.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Unknown said...


Thanks for the compliment. After being called a marketing douche bag in a comment on my last post on vane YouTube contestants, your comment is refreshing. Glad you are enjoying it.

Anonymous said...


Thought id ask as you ar the car marketing guru

Im doing some work on Auto marketing in a recession. Other than the Hyundai Assurance campaign, what other recession related campaigns are you familiar with at the moment?


Unknown said...

There's a lot of news out today about GM and Ford following Hyundai's lead with their own Assurance like campaigns.

Ford's Offer

GM's Offer

There are a couple of other incentives that are a bit unique, like BMW USA doing a 0.9% offer combined with making your first two payments. No recession language, but definitely an unique program for BMW.

Volvo is using a lot of "Stimulus" language in their media, but the offers are just the same thing they've been running for several years.

Sid Savage Auto Dealer Supply said...

Interesting thoughts, do you think more automakers will use this strategy in the future?

Unknown said...

Which strategy? Using emerging media like YouTube and gaming in marketing campaigns like the Nissan Rogue is doing? Besides, death and taxes, I'm sure it is 100% certain marketing plans will include such tactics.

If you are referring to the Hyundai Assurance program and it's copycats, I think so. I think this may be a new way to buy a vehicle for at least the coming year and possibly longer. It all depends on the length of the current recession. Hyundai has made great strides with their program and the industry has noticed. I expect more OEMs to follow GM and Ford's recent announcement.

Kristi VandenBosch said...

Hey – Kristi VandenBosch here. Just to respond to a couple of the stats you called into question: the "viral" videos were viewed more than 200,000 time during the campaign's cycle – not just on YouTube, but on other video-friendly networks, like Yahoo's "Video" tab... which wasn't a seeded placement, but actual editorial resulting in nearly 60k viewings.

The waiting list comment is based on Nissan's projected volume targets versus actual sales. They experience greater-than-planned demand at launch, and had waiting lists for the first time since the launch of the re-designed 350Z.

And man, I wish we could round to the nearest million. :)

Thanks for a good blog review; hope I was able to clear up my comments. The stats were all accurate, and I'm happy to provide background on anything you have questions about.

Unknown said...

Kristi. Thanks for adding some more perspective on this, especially valuable first-person perspective. That's excellent about the Yahoo! video views and shows how effective the viral component of the campaign was. Also, thank you for expanding our knowledge on what was meant by 'waiting lists'.

Unknown said...

Love to see this discussion! It’s great to see you all working through the issues and also, it’s great to see recommendations for testing. In the end, it’s what your actual users do and prefer that should be your biggest driver in making these decisions.
Great article and discussion!
online marketing

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