The marketing drive links the carmaker to the football properties through a shared theme of “engineering excitement” for fans.
It will feature players and branding from English champions Manchester City, Japanese club Yokohama Marinos, the newly created US team New York City FC and the Australian team Melbourne Heart recently bought by the City Football Group.
The Premier League outfit will push the creative theme through global activity to exploit its rising stock as one of the world’s top teams, while more localised activation plans will run for the lesser known clubs. TV adverts will also appear around matches involving the clubs, including City’s Champions League and FA Cup games.
User-generated campaigns crowdsourcing in pictures or goal celebrations from fans will form the bulk of the strategy with Nissan opting to build long-term affinity to sporting success rather than drive short-term sales.
It is unusual for a football club to franchise its brand to different teams in the way City Football Group is doing and Nissan hopes the network lifts its awareness in key growth markets China, Brazil and South East Asia.
Andy Palmer, chief planning officer at Nissan, says the sponsorship campaign will be led centrally from its global team to improve marketing consistency. Campaigns will be more focused on promoting the “innovation and excitement” of Nissan rather than specific cars, although this could change as the strategy matures.
The car manufacturer expects the mix of City’s teams and Champions League to avoid alienating fans in the same way it would have done had it opted to back several high profile clubs.
Palmer adds: “Our philosophy has normally been to sponsor leagues or cups rather than teams because when you get into teams you normally get into [fan] allegiances usually. With the City Football Network of teams it’s almost like we’re sponsoring a league.
“We have the advantage of being able to work with blooming players that will move around the clubs. It’s like our GT academy [drivers] having a seat in a GT car and then eventually working their way up to Formula One. If Formula One is akin to the Manchester City first team, then there’s an opportunity to tell great stories around how players develop their skills and play for different teams in the network.”