Nissan passes ad dollars to the NFL

For Nissan, the challenge with shifting to the NFL was to find space that was not already littered with auto ads. It’s hard to watch games without seeing a pickup spot in nearly every commercial pod. The automotive category accounted for $706 million of the $3.9 billion spent during NFL regular season games last year, more than any other category, according to Kantar figures.

Nissan struck a seasonlong deal with ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and expects to also run ads during select Sunday afternoon games on Fox and CBS.

The brand was able to find spots “with the least amount of automotive clutter so we can try to break through and stand out in a very cluttered space, which NFL tends to be,” said Allyson Witherspoon, vice president of marketing communications and media at Nissan North America.

The “Heisman House” campaign, which features previous winners of the prestigious college trophy, is a good fit to run in college and NFL games, she said, noting that many of the players in the ads are current NFL stars, including Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson.

“It was just a natural place for us to expand our media and be able to … offset some of the communication objectives that we weren’t able to get because of the reduction of the schedule in college football,” Witherspoon said.

The campaign, as usual, is lighthearted, sticking to its theme of imagining a world in which the previous Heisman winners share a house. But this year’s spots make a nod to coronavirus lockdowns. One ad opens with Jackson greeted at the fictional house by Tim Tebow, who sports what can only be described as an unruly quarantine beard, expressing amazement that the season is on and that it is “Heisman time.”

The campaign features the 2021 Nissan Rogue as well as the Sentra, Titan and Kicks models.

The ads were shot outside Austin, Texas, in July, with participants taking COVID-19 precautions, including using a reduced crew and ensuring that everyone stayed 6 feet apart.

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