Nissan wants to improve image in Europe

Automaker hopes 350Z will rejuvenate brand

Br hl. Nissan wants to change its image.

"We are no longer only reliable and inexpensive," said Markus Keussen, marketing director for Nissan importer Br hl, Germany. "We also stand for emotional design, a lot of driving pleasure and innovative technologies."

Keussen will have 40 million euros this year, 10 percent more than in 2003, to advertise the brand's new image.

Keussen feels that Nissan's image has already been transformed with the launch of the Micra compact car and the X-Trail sport-utility. The 350Z, which will be launched soon, is another key part of the company's image change.

Keussen will dedicate 6 million euros of his marketing budget to introduce the 280hp 350Z, which will cost 33,500 euros.

In 2004, Nissan aims to sell more than 7,200 350Zs in western Europe. The company hopes to sell about 4,000 of those units in Germany.

Nissan already has received 1,400 orders throughout western Europe for the new Z, which rivals the Audi TT and Chrysler Crossfire. Of those preorders, 400 are from Germany.

"This is the result of our pre-sale advertising campaign," Keussen said.

Nissan's online campaign for the car, which started in March, drew interest from 10,000 people. A promotional tour that took the car to business lounges at German airports attracted an additional 35,000 potential customers.

Nissan launched a print advertising campaign in September using the slogan, "Are you ready to Z?" A larger ad campaign for the car will start at the beginning of 2004.

"The Z will then become the brand's rejuvenator," said Kai R÷ffen, managing director at the advertising agency TBWA, which is responsible for the campaign.