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Nissan Refreshes and Updates its 2010 Sedans

A $400 navi should help build demand for the 2010 Nissan Sentra.

A $400 navi should help build demand for the 2010 Nissan Sentra.

Light trucks may still be a critical segment of the American market, but passenger cars for Nissan are down just 18.6% compared to the industry’s drop of 26%, so far this year and are a very important category to the company. Despite the economic climate Nissan has increased its total market share to 6.7%, for the calendar-year-to-date, and has made a major investment to “refresh and update” its sedans, Maxima, Altima, Versa and Sentra.

Citing extensive enhancements to their exteriors – a family resemblance in grills and front fascias — and interiors, along with new content packages and an emphasis on value, technology and entertainment – every model has been updated to some degree. Here are the key changes:

Maxima  — new 7” color video display for Navi and other technologies, including the new rearview camera, a 2GB music server, iPod net, DVD playback, Bluetooth, streaming audio and XM Nav/Weather, USB connectivity, and two new exterior colors.

Altima – ranked #1 in J.D. Power’s Ininitial Quality Survey, it has meaningful exterior changes for the sedan, including restyled hood, grille, front bumper, new colors, VDS standard  and new alloy wheels.  The interior has revised fabrics and finishers, new gauge appearance, USB connectivity and a 4” color audio display.

Altima Coupe – has a new 3.5 SR model with restyled hood, grille, front bumper, projector beam hadlights, standard 17” wheels and 3 new exterior colors. Red leather seating is a new addition to interior trim colors along with elements from the sedan. (Pix available)

Sentra – the 2010 Sentra 2.0 has revised headlights and taillights, new grille and front fascia, revised wheel deisgns and standard DC. Inside the Sentra there are new fabrics with optional leather appointments and a new navigation package, (Discussed later) (Pix available)

Versa – even the entry level Versa with an MSRP of  $9,990 through the top of range hatchback at $16,550 has had modifications including new 16” alloy wheels, Nissan’s new front grille, and new wheel covers. The interior has new seat and door trim fabrics, new audio, and a new meter cluster.

All these interior and exterior revisions add to the appearance and comfort of Nissan’s sedans, but the 2010 Versa and Sentra’s have something unique.  For that, read on.

Nissan’s $400 Navi

Nissan is offering this navigation system on the Sentra and Versa models for just $400.

Nissan is offering this navigation system on the Sentra and Versa models for just $400.

Yep, just four hundred bucks. For a Bosch-designed system installed on the 2010 Nissan Sentra and Versa models during a special promotion.  That’s a major breakthrough considering that factory-installed Navis can run anywhere from $1,200 to more than $2,000 – a real case of sticker shock when you consider the steadily declining price for the growing line-up of aftermarket systems from Tom Tom, Garman and other vendors.

That’s a reasonably good price even for a high-line portable PND (personal navigation device). And it’s a great bargaining chip in a tough market.  Can you hear the salesperson saying, “If you’re ready to deal, I throw-in an installed navigation system to sweeten the deal.”

This is not a slimmed down system, either. The Nissan navigation system bundles a diverse range of audio, navigation and communication functions in a compactly designed unit integrated into the dashboard. In addition to AM/FM and satellite radio reception, the audio system is able to play CDs or MP3 music files on the integrated CD drive or via the USB slot or the AUX input.

Smart move and good marketing from Nissan. When will other brands follow?

In Memoriam: Artie Fields, Music Meister Extraordinaire

Arties Fields changed the tone of Detroit advertising - and told Barbara Streisand to find another job.

Arties Fields changed the tone of Detroit advertising - and told Barbara Streisand to find another job.

One must be of a certain age to know and recognize the name Artie Fields, who passed away last week.  Gen X’ers and Y’ers in advertising will probably have no knowledge of the contribution this talented man had on the use of music and jingles in commercials for radio and television.

Starting in the mid-sixties from a recording studio/stage at 9438 Woodward that he created from the old Alhambra Theater, Artie Fields Productions became the source of music and commercials for the Big 3’s advertising agencies and other national brands.

And yes, many of his commercials used the talents of musicians and singers from Motown to create a unique sound for celebrity vocalists of the time. The old theater became the world’s biggest echo chamber, creating amazing depth of sounds.

Artie wrote all the music and lyrics for Plymouth commercials featuring Eydie Gorme – now a Las Vegas standard. Remember Let’s go Krogering,  and Firestone’s Where The Rubber Meets the Road?  Those were his too. For Chevrolet, according to a Billboard article in 1969, Field’s wrote most of the music and was the leader of the band backing Dinah Shore on her long-running television program.  And who doesn’t remember, “See the USA in your Chevrolet?”

But his legacy lives on in a song he created for the 1967 Tigers, “Go get ‘em Tigers” which is still used today by the Comerica Park organist and is the biggest selling telephone ring tone for any Major League Baseball Team.

One bit of Field’s music history involved Barbara Streisand, who in the early ‘60’s was singing at the Caucus Club, in downtown Detroit – long before her ascendency to stardom. The story, as told to me by a former colleague, an early TV producer at a big agency and with whom she was “friendly with,”  arranged for Artie to come hear her perform. Liking what he heard, Artie invited her to come to the studio to record a formal audition.  Once in a booth, Field’s gave the singer instructions on the sound he wanted and how she should sing and phrase the lyrics.  Streisand, the story goes, said she’d would only sing it her way. Field’s said no.  And with that she left the studio.

The Future – As Viewed for Fiat in New Commercial

There’s plenty of chatter among the remaining advertising creatives in Detroit agencies and those agencies who are in the pitch scrum since Fiat began its ad agency review.  A central question: what type of advertising will be sought or appeal to the new marketing management.  Here’s a recent example of a commercial for Fiat created in Brazil.


New York Times Special Auto Section

There are advertising sections, AKA advertorials and then there are advertising supported sections, with Thursday’s New York Times Car section among the latter. Twenty pages of excellent editorial comment, coverage and reporting with both brand and retailer advertising is impressive and noteworthy.

Like most newspapers, the NY Times is suffering the depression in advertising revenue especially from auto advertisers, but rather than do nothing but complain, they did something and built a car section that is informative, interesting and, yes, even innovative. The copy was targeted to the average consumers – those who don’t know torque from their elbow – sans techno-gear-speak and way too much puffery .

Is there a strong marketing message here for other newspapers?  It would seem so.

If you’re not a Times subscriber you can still go the site and search for the Cars section on Thursday, October 22. or the online edition . Most of the writers names you will either know or recognize.

China’s Luxury Car

The Hong Qi HQE is the most prestigious of all China's home market products and reserved for senior leaders, like President Hu Jintao.

The Hong Qi HQE is the most prestigious of all China's home market products and reserved for senior leaders, like President Hu Jintao.

Hu Jinto, he president of China rides around in the nation’s only luxury brand, the Hong Qi HQE.  The car is a Chinese-designed and developed limousine, which also houses the first domestically-designed and -built V12 engine. The HQE is completely handmade and its body extends over six meters.

China Car Time reports that the “V12 engine is a 6.0 liter model that produces  a max torque of 550 lb-ft at 4000rpm, which puts the max torque at a little lower than the Audi A8 W12 engine.”

The article went on to note, “For China’s burgeoning automotive industry this is a showcase since these cars are reserved for the nation’s top leaders. It’s the domestic market’s loss, since a China-made luxury vehicle would likely appeal to the growing number of Chinese motorists snapping up the more familiar luxury brands.”

Porsche’s NewPitch

Nissan is hoping to boost demand for the controversially-styled Panamera, it's first-ever 4-door.

Nissan is hoping to boost demand for the controversially-styled Panamera, it's first-ever 4-door sports car.

It’s a new field of dreams for the new Panamera, 4 person sports car.

Will this commercial win over skeptics, many of who can’t get over the ant queen shape of the 4-door sports car’s rear?  We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, leave us a comment, below.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Porsche pitch — and the rest of the news in this week’s issue of Marty’s Marketing Minutia.

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