Nissan's back -- just follow your nose
After keeping a low profile at several recent U.S. auto shows, Nissan is mounting a full-blown return to the spotlight this week at the Detroit show -- complete with a new show fragrance the brand hopes will become its trademark smell.
The aroma -- labeled "vert oriental" in French -- evokes the smell of green tea "during Chinese spring harvest" and will emanate from a flashy, newly designed interactive display stand that Nissan is unveiling in Detroit.
Nissan hopes that the "brand smell" will be such a hit with auto show visitors around the country this year that its U.S. retailers will agree to use the fragrance in their showrooms, says Erich Marx, the brand's director for interactive and social-media marketing.
"We're hoping our dealers will embrace it," Marx says. "We'll be measuring the reception."
He said a global team has been plotting both the new aroma and the rest of the auto show impact for the past year.
Nissan, the market's fifth most popular brand, took the radical step of pulling out of the Detroit show in January 2009 when the economy crashed. Nissan instead chose quieter presences at shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
It also stayed off the 2010 Detroit show floor, operating a salon outside the hall instead.
"We stepped away a few years ago," Marx says. "We're back now. We want to be the must-see booth at the show. This is an acknowledgment that auto shows are an important way to make a statement about who we are.
"The timing is important. We've launched five important vehicles in 15 months, and we want to be able to show them off in way that does them justice."
The new booth, designed by the trade show marketing firm George P. Johnson Co., features a 150-foot long "halo" with lighting effects that hovers above multilevel booths. One wall will be an interactive display powered by xBox Kinnect, showcasing Nissan vehicle technology.
The stand is modular, so Nissan can use smaller versions of it at smaller shows.
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