NASHVILLE -- Jeremy Tucker was still in college the last time Nissan ran an ad during the Super Bowl back in 1997.
Now 38 and vice president of U.S. marketing for the automaker, Tucker will execute Nissan’s return to the high-profile advertising stage in February. Tucker says the Super Bowl offers Nissan a “big moment” to show America what it has to offer.
“Nissan has something to talk about,” Tucker says. “We need big stages like the Super Bowl to tell our story.”
But it will hardly be the same Nissan that played ball in 1997.
Nissan leaders have spent the past seven or eight years repositioning the brand away from what they considered a vague and bland identity as more or less a low-cost import.
Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 saw a Nissan Maxima speeding through suburbia while Top Gun-parodying pigeons attempted to befoul the paint job. The yucks were plentiful -- the car was barely on camera.
The Nissan of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 strives to be a technology and design leader.
Over the past several years, Nissan has claimed that its fleet is the industry’s most fuel-efficient. It has loaded its cars and trucks with backup cameras and lane-departure safety features ahead of the pack. It responded to Toyota’s dominance of hybrid technology with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, spurring cities across the U.S. to invest in public charging stations. It also radically moved its product line to continuously variable transmissions.
Tucker will not tip his hand to reveal what the Super Bowl XLIX will see from Nissan. But it could well feature the redesigned Maxima that will go on sale late in 2015.
So far, that model has only been seen in concept form at international auto shows. But it represents Nissan’s transformation since the 1990s -- and, really, its transformation since the company’s brand repositioning of the past several years.