New Nissan US boss slams Nissan United ad efforts

Neil Dawson, newly installed as global ECD of Nissan United, TBWA’s unit dedicated to Nissan, is busy getting his US visa and packing his bags. Neil had better get a move on as Nissan’s new sales and marketing boss Christian Meunier has been reviewing the agency’s work and he’s not happy.

Meunier (below) told Ad Age sister paper Automotive News: “I was really upset with the agency in the beginning. I challenged them. I locked them in a room for a week in New York, and came back after a week and it was still shit. I came back after two weeks and it was still shit. I said, ‘You guys better deliver something. You’d better come to Nashville next week with a plan that works.'”

Separately Meunier said: “Guys, I’m sorry to say it but we’ve spent billions of dollars on advertising in the past few years … and our brand is very vague. People don’t really know what Nissan is about. And that’s a problem.”

Yikes. However Meunier now says: “They came back with a very good plan.” Which Nissan is now running by dealers in the US.

You can imagine the consternation this caused at TBWA and owner Omnicom. Nissan United president Jon Castle responded: “As Christian said, we have a very good plan in place going forward in the U.S. It is aligned and approved at the very highest levels in both Nashville and Japan. Furthermore, the Nissan United agency model is not changing; we are continuing to evolve to stay ahead in an ever-changing industry.”

It’s not the easiest job in the world to change agencies at a big global car company. Most have their own bespoke arrangements, Nissan United at TBWA/Omnicom and various Ford entitities at WPP. Jaguar uses Spark44 which it owns with the agency’s management while Hyundai and Kia have in-house agency Innocean. Innocean recently set up a new media agency, Canvas, from US independent Horizon.

So it looks unlikely that Nissan will have driven off by the time Dawson lands in New York. We hope.

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