Nissan taking more time to hire new N.A. ad boss

Nissan's Fred Diaz: "The spirit of Nissan now is to do things differently." Photo credit: Greg Horvath

UPDATED: 8/7/14 2:50 pm ET - includes video

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Nissan Motor Co. is taking its time to hire its next North American advertising chief, and it will not necessarily be someone from the auto industry who takes the job.

“We are looking for a person with a proven gut feel for what’s good advertising and what’s not good advertising, and I can tell you that we are completely indifferent to whether we hire someone who has ever worked in the auto industry before or not,” says Fred Diaz, Nissan’s senior vice president for U.S. sales & service and operations.

Jon Brancheau stepped down as Nissan’s North American vice president of marketing in early May after multiple rapid-fire vehicle launches and guiding the brand’s “Innovation that Excites” identity campaign.

Three months later, Diaz says the field is still open for candidates.

Pile of resumes

“I’ve got a thick folder of resumes sitting on my desk,” Diaz said in an interview with Automotive News on the sidelines of the 2014 Management Briefing Seminars here this week.

“But the spirit of Nissan now is to do things differently. Not just in advertising, but in many aspects. I really want Nissan to break out of the pack in how people see us.”

He said Nissan is becoming more active in large social gatherings, like sporting events, relying on people seeing and touching its vehicles rather than simply seeing their images in print or on TV.

He said he wants the next ad chief to continue thinking outside the box -- a direction that is going on even in the absence of a U.S. advertising executive.

Racing car trick

Nissan recently created a marketing event for online viewing that demonstrated the Altima family sedan’s performance aspects.

Visitors at a racetrack were tricked into believing they were taking a joy ride in a racecar -- but the racecar packaging was then quickly dismantled by a pit crew to show passengers that it was simply an Altima.

Those videos received so much online traffic, that Nissan has now edited them into TV ad spots, Diaz said.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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