Nissan Versa

By now, brands’ use of micro-video apps Vine and Instagram video is well-documented. Tapping into networks full of smartphone users hungry for visual content has given brands yet another way to reach and interact with their customers. Yet even as companies scramble to create mini-films to delight and entertain their audiences, who those clips reach is typically limited to mobile device users.

Despite the rise of new media, traditional advertising platforms maintain their vast reach and offer something else Vine and Instagram video don’t: frequency. Whereas, in advertising terms, reach refers to the number of people who see an ad, frequency denotes how many times each individual is exposed to it. For advertisers, both metrics are important, and achieving balance between them is a key goal. While Vine and Instagram are natural environments for such content, each video is likely to be seen only once by a brand’s followers.

In an effort to reach target consumers as well as the rest of America, Nissan USA is running a first-of-its-kind contest that will feature fans’ Vines and Instagram videos in an upcoming 30-second TV spot. Fans of the Nissan Versa Note can visit to grab printable elements that must be included in their Vine or Instagram video entries. The videos should focus on the entrants’ passions, include the Versa Note printable elements, and be tagged #VersaVid. Six people will win $1,000 gift cards, while three Grand Prize winners’ videos will also be chosen by the marketing team and incorporated into the TV commercial.

Nissan’s Director of Interactive and Social Media Marketing, Erich Marx, is one of the drivers of this campaign. We recently spoke with him to discuss the strategy and logistics behind the commercial.

Having Fun With It


The “Your Door To More” campaign is part of a media push to introduce the new generation of Nissan’s popular hatchback, the Versa, to the nation. Around the world, the same car is known as the Note, and Marx says the new name is a nod to the car’s global success. He also says having a young, active, and single target market opened the door for a fun approach.

“We were intrigued by this micro-video platform. Six seconds — what could you possibly do with six seconds that’s compelling?” Marx says. “But Vine is almost exclusively used by a younger, Millennial demographic. That’s an interesting alignment with our strategy.”

Originally, the marketing plan only included Vine, but with a week to go before the campaign launch, Instagram video came out. Realizing the potential to reach even more people, Marx and his team delayed the contest to make room for the new video tool. At press time, Instagram videos created for Nissan numbered 19, while Viners have created 30.

To Marx, giving Millennials an opportunity to cleverly express themselves in as little as six seconds is a fun challenge. Judging by some of the entries so far, users are taking the opportunity for TV air time seriously. The most creative videos feature stop motion, props and sound effects.

Length Matters


In the raging social media debate surrounding Instagram video vs. Vine, there has been much speculation about which platform will win out in the end. According to Marx, this contest is a mini-experiment testing that. “I think a lot of people felt that Instagram was better because it gives you 15 seconds,” Marx says. “It’s a much bigger challenge than you think.”

Consider that most standard TV ads run in 15 or 30-second formats, sandwiched between full-length content. On mobile platforms where everything is served in bite-sized chunks, 15 seconds can feel like an eternity. Based on contest entries to date, it seems fans prefer the shorter Vine format as well.

Tapping Social to Drive Everything

Nissan Versa 2

Although the VersaVids will eventually make their way to TV, Marx and his team are soliciting entries through Nissan’s existing social networks. Using Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, the Nissan social team is inviting over three million fans to participate. That, plus a bit of paid social advertising, is what Marx hopes will get lots of great entries.

For a campaign so centered around social, it’s no surprise that Marx’s measure of success is based on similar metrics. “We’re looking to drive tens of millions of Facebook impressions,” he says. “We’re looking to get 25,000 Twitter engagements, and we’re looking at the number of entries we get too.”

In this campaign, success is not limited to the second screen. For entrants and the Nissan social team alike, the TV commercial at the end of this contest is what’s most at stake. Slated to launch in September, Marx sees the contest as a build-up to the mainstream debut of the micro-video collage that will be one of the Versa Note’s first TV spots.

“The success of the television commercial that we’re able to weave together from the winning entries, we’re hoping that that’s something that can be a big part of the Versa Note broadcast TV launch,” Marx says.

For aspiring mini-videographers, the door to the #VersaVids contest remains open until August 5, 2013. What are you waiting for? Step on it!

[Image credits: PRNewsFoto, SusiezwekkeNissan]