Nissan Xterra Case Study

Background/Challenge In the late ’90s, Stanley made a strategic decision to reduce their marketing investment, which resulted in a dramatic decline in brand awareness and relevance to 18-to-34-year-old “do-it-yourselfers”. Our challenge was to create a passionate, emotional connection to the younger generation. Key Insights Our search for the big idea led us to the back rooms of blue-collar bars at local work sites. Pitchers of beer and platters of wings were the truth serum that led to deep trade insights and secrets of tool preferences. Great tools instantly inspire confidence among professionals. Further, we came to understand the playful “locker-room” sensibility that tools generate in the hands of young tradesmen. Strategic/Creative Solution The creative strategy was to exploit the transformative effect that Stanley Tools had on the target consumer when they picked them up. We labeled this “The Tool Effect.” Media Solution Our integrated program included a cross-platform plan with all of ESPN’s properties to align the brand with the most powerful brand in sports. We went into men’s favorite places and created programs for sports bars, gyms and job sites. Results Launch year sales up 10% over the previous year. + 5% year 2. Unaided awareness increased 75%. Purchase intent improved 25%. Web site traffic increased 70%. And, if trade recognition is any measure of success, in 2005, Scott Bannell, Stanley’s Director of Corporate Marketing, was recognized by AdAge as one of the “Marketing 50”. AD: Bob Gates, Jim O'brien, Me CW: Brooks Jackson, Jim Hagar CD: Me, Jim Hagar

For Nissan, overall brand intentions and opinions of the brand were at a six-year low. The Xterra launch needed to create momentum and accelerate a rebirth of consumer confidence in Nissan.

Key Insights
Bigger, more luxurious SUV’s became the new status vehicles. This new definition of the SUV as luxury vehicles left a hole in the marketplace that was open for exploitation. Someone needed to put back the “utitlity” into the SUV.

Strategic/Creative Solution
Present the Xterra as Functional Outdoor Gear you can depend on. Its image has to be true to the consumers that started the SUV craze. The key was to reach THE OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS. The attitude is effectively captured in the phrase “Everything You Need, Nothing You Don’t.” The net result of the creative strategy is not to just sell an SUV to outdoor enthusiasts, but to present the product as part of their culture. To create Xterra evangelists, not just Xterra buyers.

Response to pre-launch efforts offered an early indication of successes to come. The goal was 50,000 “hand-raisers” prior to launch, the result was 75,000 (150% of objective.) This was
followed by ( the unofficial Xterra web-site, created by an impatient evangelist as a forum for Xterra evangelists. The page was and still is populated by the core target who flamed a BMW owner who wanted the Xterra as second vehicle to tow his boat to the Hamptons.

The campaign was awarded the Grand Effie in 2001.

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