LONDON -- Looking beyond the 30-second TV commercial, Nissan Europe is airing a 24-minute spot.
The automaker is running an epic commercial on a British cable and satellite network. The series of 24 one-minute episodes is divided into eight weekly chapters.
The move is sure to catch the eye of U.S. advertisers that seek clutter-busting TV buys.
The campaign's goal is to attract younger viewers and persuade them Nissan is cool.
"We seek to challenge convention," says Andy Connell, Nissan Europe's manager of marketing communications. "It will take a couple of weeks for people to grasp what's going on, but it is intriguing and will stick in the mind. It will give us more standout than conventional advertising."
Nissan is paying $3 million to sponsor three Sunday night dramas on News Corp.'s Sky One network. The hour-long shows are the U.S. imports "24" and "Nip/Tuck" and a soccer soap opera called "Dream Team."
Nissan's advertising agency, Omnicom Group's TBWA/London, created a short dramatic film to run during the programs. Episodes of the 24-minute film are running as a serial adventure.
Each one-minute episode is divided into eight spots. A 15-second burst leads into the TV program, followed by six spots lasting five seconds apiece. The hour ends with the last 15-second spot. Every episode runs three times each Sunday, once each hour.
The ad agency produced a road movie shot in Nevada and Arizona. It revolves around an unnamed character. The spots feature models Nissan is launching in the United Kingdom this year.
A new Nissan campaign in Great Britain turns a TV commercial into a drama serial.
Early episodes show the main character sitting in his car, reading a letter and getting emotional. He withdraws lots of money from the bank and buys a car for cash. In subsequent episodes, he takes to the road, loses the car, gets a lift, finds another car, meets a girl and steals a car.
"We developed the media idea as part of the companywide 'Shift' (marketing) strategy," says Ben Brown, an account director and brand planner at Omnicom Group.
The TV deal marks Nissan's first major attempt at brand-building in the United Kingdom. The automaker holds a 3.5 percent share of the British new-vehicle market. The automaker is known for building inexpensive small cars but otherwise lacks a strong British brand image.
Sky One's Sunday evening audience consists of only about one-half million households. But Nissan says it is targeting "early adopters" of TV technology. The commercials are so brief that it is hard for viewers to skip them, Brown says.
"You can't ad-avoid," he says. "You get the benefit of attentiveness and the feeling of exclusivity."
Nissan is launching four vehicles in the United Kingdom in the next six months: the Murano and Pathfinder SUVs, Navara pickup and 350Z roadster.
"It is a challenge for a car manufacturer to present four new models in quick succession," Nissan's Connell says. "This is the ideal way to get the message across."