Nissan Lets Fans Build Z-car
by Karl Greenberg,
NissanNissan has launched a social media campaign that lets consumers help design the Nissan 370Z sports car. The program, called “Project 370Z,” is focused on the Chicago Auto Show, where Nissan is unveiling the 2013 version of the famed Z-car.
The company says the goal is to crowd-source Z fanatics to find the best — or perhaps most outrageous — ideas for a one-off 370Z. The automaker says the Z will be customized from stem to stern, including interior, powertrain and NISMO aftermarket parts and accessories.
The online kiosk for fan suggestions, and sideline cheering is at Nissan’s enthusiast-centric Facebook page, facebook.com/nissanperformance. There, Z freaks can suggest and also vote on peoples’ modification ideas, and watch.
While automakers have been offering virtual modification platforms, usually in the form of virtual cars in virtual worlds that people can modify, this is unusual. Jon Brancheau, VP of marketing at Franklin, Tenn.-based Nissan North America, said that the Z-car is the right vehicle for this kind of program.
“Car companies build project vehicles all the time, but we thought it’d be interesting to harness the power of social media to reach out to Z enthusiasts — the people who are doing this to their own cars everyday,” he said, in a statement. He said the company will take the finished car to Nissan Z club events nationwide.
According to the automaker fan, likes, comments and wall posts will be reviewed over the course of each voting session and the part or accessory with the most fan support will be chosen for the build. Fans will decide on things like whether the car will have a turbocharger or supercharger, suspension and braking systems, paint, wheels, seats, interior design and on and on. Nissan says the final design will debut May 17 at the annual “Z DayZ” event along the “Tail of the Dragon” in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.
The event has car shows, various competitions, and events, and group drives including one along the Dragon’s Tail. Nissan says the Project 370Z car will also visit events like ZCON 2012 and the 2012 SEMA show.
“We have never done something like this in the social space,” says Josh Clifton, Nissan production communications social media manager. He tells Marketing Daily that the only thing that comes close is a program around the launch of the Juke crossover in 2010, where consumers could create exterior “skins” for the vehicle, with the winner getting the vehicle wrapped per his or her design.
Clifton says the Z program involves 10 phases of customization. “Whatever gets the most aggregated votes will be in the car.”
The genesis of the idea came from Nissan’s history of consumer comments around special-edition project cars. “Everyone always has suggestions. So we wanted to give people a chance to ‘build’ a Z themselves. Also we wanted to use social media to tie into the Chicago Show.” Clifton says the car will be featured in Web video assets, and photos, and might find its way into ads.