Nissan: lessons learnt from the “new star of India” business case

The first afternoon session at the usefulsocialmedia conference Nissan – David Parkinson, General Manager of Social & Digital engagement for EMEA & India (@dave_nissan). Dave introduced his pitch by saying he is not an “expert” that we all learn from our mistakes … I have made that statement very often myself so I cannot but agree more.

3 Nissan models are available in India amongst which the micra:

The New star of India video shot in Bollywood by Nissan

What was the problem?

The spending by Nissan was smaller in this country and the mindshare in the country was less than 10% compared to 40+% for VW. The aim was to double the brand awareness in India. At the time, social media awareness was lacking and a lot of the social media activity was also swamped with kinds trying to get a job before Nissan took over the page. Nissan hired the AKQA agency from London and came up with 3 big ideas:

  1. big button in cities which could win prizes
  2. social game for finding cool things in the city
  3. crowd-sourced Bollywood movie!

Idea 3 was retained.

Indian Web

In India, mobile dominates, but 3G is still flaky. 60% of Internet users still access the Web through Internet cafés. Facebook is now the most successful platform in India so it was the right place to be. The idea started with this big idea “the star of india” off the www.facebook.com/nissanindia page.

People were asked to come and audition: an application was created on Facebook which which the users could film themselves dancing and then votes would decide who would be chosen. Podiums were set up in shopping malls and in fact, this is where most videos came from because Indians could not film themselves and upload the videos. “The application was our first mistake” David said and even, “some users couldn’t access the application at all” he added. Recruitment went on and bloggers were also brought into the campaign.

But an emerging market is “a completely different kettle of fish”

  • did a good job of improving the recollection of the Micra in India (+50% awareness)
  • the result for remembering Nissan was less successful David very honestly admitted
  • The Facebook community went up to 500k users (from zero and became no.1 in India, above Audi!)

What went right and wrong?

  • engagement was tremendous
  • success with Facebook was good but wasn’t organic
  • … yet the beauty is that fans are cheap in India
  • the final film was good but … “it was almost too good” and besides, “there wasn’t enough money left to do the PR” David went on although PR is very important in India
  • Lesson learnt is to make a lesser quality film and spend more on the PR(“the complexity of the PR market in India is tremendous”)
  • apps are too sophisticated for an emerging country
  • Nissan found it also very difficult to wind the campaign down and “the ending wasn’t graceful” David said.
  • “never under-estimate how you work with people in India, relationships are different” so you “need someone on the ground”

Recommendations

  • do your research
  • Facebook may not be the right tool (in China, Russia for instance) or Twitter (in France)
  • Emerging doesn’t mean cheap (in a “rupee for rupee” kind of way)

Q&A

  • Q: did you consider Cricket?
  • A: the first problem was that the sponsor was already another car manufacturer and the second  that Cricket is very expensive (one sponsor spent as much as $1m to support a batsman in India!)
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Yann Gourvennec

CEO & Founder at Visionary Marketing
Yann has a long-standing experience in marketing, information systems and Web marketing. He created visionarymarketing.com in 1996 and since then, he has practiced Web strategy, e-business and Web communications in the field. He was a member of socialmedia.org from 2008 till 2013. He is a lecturer, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger. In early 2014, he went from intrapreneur to entrepreneur when he founded his digital marketing agency Visionary Marketing.
Yann Gourvennec
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