Nissan will kick up its marketing involvement in U.S. college sports with a multi-year campaign to sponsor athletic events and programs at 100 colleges around the country.
The campaign will put Nissan’s name onto signs at stadiums and arenas in football, basketball, baseball and other sports at 27 colleges and universities by the end of December, and at 100 schools in 2016.
Jeremy Tucker, Nissan North America vice president of marketing communications and media, declined to reveal the price tag for the sweeping campaign, but acknowledged that it would be significant.
The commitment will extend from permanent sports field signage and sporting event media sponsorship, to athletic scholarships, facility upgrades and academic tutoring for athletes. It will cover sports from huge NCAA college football stadiums down to soccer, swimming, bowling tournaments and golf meets.
The move follows other recent steps by the No. 5 automaker to get its name in front of more sports fans as it guns for rival Honda’s No. 4 position.
This summer, Nissan purchased stadium-naming rights for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The team is not only located in Nissan’s headquarters city in Nashville, but the team’s name conveniently plays into Nissan’s relaunch into the full-sized pickup segment this winter with a redesigned Titan.
“This was an idea that came across my desk at the beginning of the summer,” Tucker said of the college campaign. “Since then, we worked together with six media partners to sign up 100 schools, covering 22 sports for 11 months out of the year.
“This is unprecedented in its scale.”
Tucker estimates that U.S. college sports represent a fan base of 188 million consumers.
“Being at a college game or watching it on TV has a sense of excitement that Nissan wants to be part of,” he said. “It lines up completely with the brand and the message we’re building.
The college campaign went live last Saturday at several football games where Nissan booths will be offering fans full-body and face painting in college colors.
While such activities are far from the traditional live TV and radio advertising, they are gaining favor at Nissan as the company tries to differentiate itself from other automakers.
“Going to a college game, having your picture made with a Heisman trophy winner — these are the things people remember in their lives,” Tucker said. “They go deeper than a 30-second ad on TV.”
The program is also designed to give Nissan’s local retailers a portal into the brand’s marketing strategy of “Fewer, Bigger, Better.” That strategy is intended to wow U.S. consumers with a strong Nissan presence at major public events, like the Super Bowl.
“Our dealers have been asking for a way to participate locally in that,” Tucker said. “What’s more local than college sports?”
“We will be putting our message out through local radio, television, social media, digital, email blasts and college media. The dealers have the ability to engage in any aspect of it,” he said.
“Every dealer at Nissan gets something from this deal.”