SAN DIEGO -- To launch its critical Versa Note subcompact hatchback this summer, Nissan Division will rely on short blips of creativity from consumers who probably have never driven the car.
In lieu of a traditional advertising campaign, Nissan's marketing team will rely on Vine, a smartphone video app, to create a summer buzz for the car.
Vine is an online forum in which consumers can post homemade videos no more than six seconds long. The extremely short videos are typically funny and often are viewed in continual loops.
Nissan will start a nationwide competition this month to encourage people to post Vine videos using images of the Versa Note, whether or not they have bought the car.
The Versa Note is the newly named and redesigned hatchback version of the Versa. Through May, the Versa is the best-selling nameplate in the U.S. subcompact segment, with 55,056 units sold. In 2012, it sold 113,327 units.
Julie Lynch, senior marketing manager for the model, said that traditional advertising for the launch will begin in September, after the car has been in showrooms for the summer.
"You don't launch a major media campaign in the summer when viewership is down," Lynch said. "We're in a fortunate situation right now for this model. Production of the old hatchback stopped last December. Inventories are depleted. So there's something of a pent-up demand for it."
But to complicate last-minute planning for the Vine campaign, the smartphone photo app Instagram announced on June 20 that it has expanded into the video-posting market to compete with Vine.
That will force Nissan marketers to decide whether to limit the Versa Note campaign to Vine and its six-second format, or to duplicate the contest on Instagram, says Erich Marx, Nissan's director of interactive and social media. Instagram is permitting videos of as long as 15 seconds, which would alter the formula for the competition.
At the end of summer, Nissan intends to select the best Versa Note video on Vine and incorporate it into its larger nationwide ad spots.
Marx said it is possible that Nissan will extend the campaign to Instagram and select a winner from both phone apps.