Nissan to take pan-European Champions League sponsorship global next season

Nissan will take its European-focused Champions League sponsorship global next season as it prepares to close out its first year with a campaign to trumpet its electric vehicles.

It’s been a strong start to the car maker’s foray into football. The number of people that know it backs European football’s premier domestic competition is 60 per cent, it claims, double the number those who aren’t aware of its ties to the game and have a good opinion of the brand. And yet the spike in awareness is not enough for Nissan because its efforts were focused in Europe.

Next season the company wants more from its marketing and will expand its media coverage to many other countries around the world to get it. In the first year, advertising around the games itself was in Europe and for the next three years ads will run in Asia and South Africa, a move that will support its wider brand building efforts in these markets.

“If you’re a large brand like us, the most important thing is that you become part of your target customer’s world and environment, that you are part of the things that excite them, said Roel de Vries, corporate vice president and head of marketing and brand strategy at Nissan.

“We spend a lot of marketing dollars like all brands do, but to find the real connections is difficult.”

The difficulty for Nissan lies in working out how to talk when they’re in a relaxed atmosphere. While its efforts over the last year have been fruitful, there is admittedly still some way to go before it has successfully slotted the brand into people’s lives through football and is no longer just geared to talk about a car or a special offer.

This push is fuelled by key learnings from the first year, which are the potency of players in ads and the decision not to use Champions League for the latest offer it has on its vehicles.

Early manifestations of this approach will be on show tomorrow (6 June) in Nissan’s ads for the Champions League final. Resembling something akin to a Nike advert, the creative sees Manchester City’s Yaya Touré captaining a team of football tricksters competing in an indoor match with a twist; it’s played on the back of Nissan’s Light Commercial Vehicle models. Once the match starts, the vehicles begin breaking apart, creating a moving pitch that the players leap between in order to score goals.

Along with the ad to push its LCVs, the car marque will also tout its electric car range. The aim is to show the public that you can have sustainable transportation

Electric vehicles are part of where the industry is going and where the industry has to go,” said de Vries.

“If we’d start investing, like we’re doing now, and more and more people are following us, investing in these type of technologies, these vehicles will become more and more fun to drive, the range of these vehicles will get longer and longer and you get to a stage where – and I think on the upper end you can already see that with sports cars that are electric vehicles – you get to a stage where electric vehicles are just as much fun to drive as any other cars, maybe even more fun.”

Ultimately, Nissan says it is working with UEFA to make the game bigger and consequently build a stronger proposition around the brand.

The advertising you’ll see on Saturday night, or the activation on the final itself, I think sponsors have a role to play so you need a good relationship with the body or organisation or organisers so that you can jointly help develop new ideas so you can keep on building on the success of the tournament, said de Vries.

His comments on the quality of the relationship with UEFA come as sponsors of FIFA had to endure a tumultous period in the wake of a corruption scandal that has seen president Sepp Blatter announce his resignation. de Vries said he was glad Nissan was not involved with world football’s governing body but declined to comment further on the situation.

He added: “The FIFA tournaments as such, World Cup, they are strongly high in engagement in the world so I think they’re very good, they’re very powerful but obviously the organisation behind it has now been criticised and you see all the sponsors they are taking their views, but I think with anything you sponsor you need to make sure you really focus on what you sponsor.”

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