With the Nissan Rogue, overexposure proved to be a good thing. The ubiquitous TV ad may have annoyed countless viewers in America, but it seemed to have achieved its goal of bringing more people into the showroom. As the vehicle’s impressive U.S. sales suggest, Nissan’s advertising strategy was indeed effective.
In February, Nissan delivered 17,197 Rogues. This number made the nameplate the second-highest-volume vehicle in the automaker’s lineup, after the bestselling Altima sedan. Sales jumped 72.6 percent last month compared to the year prior, when the automaker was selling an earlier version of the compact crossover SUV.
Taking into account the January sales, Nissan has sold over 31,000 Rogues. The year-to-date figure is up 64 percent over the previous year.
The Rogue only placed 4th in February sales among all nameplates in the Nissan lineup in 2013. This year, the vehicle’s sales boost played a key role in the brand’s notable February performance despite flat overall U.S. sales, which is mainly attributed to bad winter weather. The Nissan Group reported 105,631 deliveries last month, a 16.7 percent increase ahead the year prior, and is now the No.5 automaker in the country. The Nissan brand ranked 4th, after Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota.
Nissan’s TV ad for the 2014 Rogue debuted on New Year’s Eve. Featuring the tag line “Commute Your Way,” the commercial featured three millennial commuters jumping the vehicle onto a commuter train and flying to a parking lot to shorten their trip to work. It also showed how the vehicle can overtake train riders and bicyclists. The over the top ad, which was directed by ‘The Italian Job’ director F. Gary Gray, was intended to change the perception of compact SUVs—it was meant to show people, particularly millennials (the vehicle’s target market), that it is a fun vehicle to ride.
Three months after the ad was launched, everybody knows about the ad—and has probably seen it more times than they wanted to. Nissan incessantly showed the commercial on college-football and NFL games, drawing the ire of sports fans and others. This resulted in social media backlash that forced the brand to apologize for overwhelming the viewers with repetitive airings.
On January 5th, Nissan USA tweeted this message to the people who expressed their disapproval over the ad’s overexposure: “We hear you. May have been a little TOO excited about the Rogue. Working w/ networks to show less this wknd. Our bad!”
Despite the apology, Nissan may have known early on that their relentless broadcast will bring positive results. The afternoon after the day the apologetic tweet was posted, Nissan released a statement that tried to justify its action: “You only get one chance to launch a vehicle and we think the disruptive nature of the ‘Commute’ spot has positioned us well to ensure that everyone knows the Rogue is All-New…Also, web traffic has hit an all-time high in terms of interest in the vehicle. Clearly our strategy has worked.”
As the numbers reveal, Nissan’s strategy did work. What may have been bad for viewers proved to be exceptionally good for the brand.