Nissan’s 18-year hiatus from the Super Bowl ended tonight -- thanks to a simple question from sales and marketing chief Fred Diaz.
“Why aren’t we in the Super Bowl?” he asked his marketing team during a December 2013 meeting.
"The look on their faces was quite frankly, 'Yeah, right. No way. I can't ever see us doing that again,'" Diaz recalled during an interview last week.
It's no surprise that the former Ram brand chief nudged Nissan back onto the game's grand stage tonight after an 18-year hiatus. Diaz had a front-row seat to the big-budget Super Bowl escapades of Fiat Chrysler marketing boss Olivier Francois.
Diaz saw how well-done commercials can step beyond cars to something more profound -- whether it was Clint Eastwood's gritty nationalism in "It's Halftime in America" or the inspirational "Born of Fire" featuring rapper Eminem that celebrated Detroit's resilience.
So Diaz was clear from the start that Nissan needed to project an authentic message that connected with the heartland.
Diaz said a wave is spreading across the nation to recognize the importance of dads in the nucleus of a happy family. Nissan, like its rival Toyota, decided to ride it in the Super Bowl commercial.
"When I saw this concept, I literally fell off my chair," Diaz recalled. "I said, 'Guys, we've got something here.'"