Nissan wants to find the ‘scientific formula for excitement’ as it uses Champions League to further engagement

While the first season of Nissan’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League was all about building up the car brand’s social media presence, the second is about increasing engagement levels as the car marque looks to build a long-term association with the competition.

Nissan already presents a Goal of the Week competition and stars such as Thiago Silva, Andrés Iniesta and Yaya Touré signed up as Nissan ambassadors. However, Jean-Pierre Diernaz, VP of marketing for Nissan Europe, says it is now “going even deeper” around the group stages of the competition.

He says the Japanese car brand will soon unveil a rankings-based participation initiative for Nissan fans, which will result in 20 winning a ‘once in a lifetime’ prize around the Uefa Champions League Final.

Diernaz told Marketing Week: “This sponsorship has been huge for building an emotional connection with our brand and it means we can talk to people six months of the year, not just a one off like the Olympics.

“There is no better platform for generating excitement than sport and our website visits are the highest they’ve ever been during match days. Before the Champions League sponsorship we weren’t even in Interbrand’s top 100 ‘best global brands’ list, now we’re 49th – that speaks volumes. This season we want to both build engagement and also emotion with our brand.”

Nissan, which has a four-year deal believed to be worth around £45m a season, replaced Ford as the sponsor of the Champions League in April 2014. Ford had sponsored the competition for 22 years and Diernaz would also like similar longevity, something he says is proven by its approach to the 2016/17 season

“From next season we want to focus on the grass roots of the competition. There are millions of kids across Europe playing football and we want to engage with the generation of the future in order to create that long-term bond,” he adds. “We’re happy with the Champions League and want to persist with it as long as possible.”

And while sport sponsorship remains integral to Nissan’s long-term marketing activity – it also recently announced a sponsorship with the International Cricket Council – it is considering “more emotive storytelling” to communicate its history ahead of its upcoming 30-year anniversary in the UK, according to Diernaz.

Nissan, he said, also has big ambitions to try to find the formula for generating exciting advertising.

He concluded: “For us the notion of excitement is very interesting. Nobody yet has found the formula for excitement. If I ask a scientist, the formula might exist or it might not. We want to try to look at this in the future and come up with ideas on how to potentially measure excitement.

“We want to find out what makes our consumers excited when they are watching a high-pressure football match or when they drive a car. Is there a way to pocket this feeling and modernise the formula into a system of engagement through our advertising? That’s what Nissan is committed to doing.”

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