Although Fred Diaz won’t be at this weekend’s big game in Arizona, he attended a Super Bowl once.
While surrounded by the pageantry, media, stars and excitement of the biggest event of the year – no doubt the envy of everyone who knew him – Diaz actually wished he was someplace else.
“I found myself wishing that I was with my family watching the game with my kids,” said Diaz, Nissan USA senior vice president, sales & marketing and operations. “So, I promised myself that I would never go back, and instead just watch it with my family.”
It returns to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997, and is garnering some extra attention for employing not a celebrity, model, or puppy, but rather a character which other products and services tend to exclude: dad.
“Our research says dads are creative, but we also wanted to make sure we showcased mom as a hero,” said Diaz, in an exclusive interview with dadmarketing. “Looking at concept after concept, the direction I gave the team was to find in some way a moment and a story that we could share with America that was real, true and authentic, and that we have a connection and that we understand. I had no idea where it would go.”
What developed was a full-blown campaign centered on a two-word relationship, simplified with a social media call to arms: #withdad.
Nissan recognizes that parents need to work, yet their families ultimately come first. So, its campaign brings this necessary struggle to life through a 90-second Super Bowl commercial so special, Diaz says, that a 10-second teaser was created to give viewers a taste of what’s to come, unlike many advertisers who tend to showcase the entire ad on YouTube several days prior.
“Our strategy was not to show the spot until the Super Bowl,” Diaz said. “Airing it (in entirety) takes away the magic of seeing it live. But just like a movie trailer, it immediately catches your attention and says, ‘I want to see that movie.’ We had always intended to show a teaser 2-3 weeks before the Super Bowl to give (viewers) a taste to whet their appetite.”
Although Diaz couldn’t reveal the entire cost of their #withdad campaign, some media reports have suggested a 30-second Super Bowl spot alone costs around $4 million. With that kind of likely investment, Diaz and his marketing team have gone all out with a plan to extend its #withdad message well beyond the Super Bowl, focusing on digital resources, social media and other extensions.
“Originally we bought 60 seconds, but when we saw the footage and spot, we just felt like it needed to have more time to breathe,” Diaz said. “We decided to go the extra mile.”
But why dads, and why now?
“When (the team) brought it to me, it just immediately connects,” Diaz said. “It was 100% that this was the way we were going to go. Whatever your family unit is, we get it. Nissan understands that you struggle with the work-life balance. That’s basically the message, ‘that we get you America.’”
While it’s refreshing to see a focus on dads, Diaz insists that Nissan’s message is all-inclusive, and that the TV ad gives proper credit to moms, as well.
“We went through great pains that mom was shown as a hero in our spots,” Diaz said. “She’s a hero and caretaker, too. She’s got to be there, too. I know very well from dad analytics that women as just as an important part of decision makers for cars, SUVs, or trucks.”
While Diaz acknowledges that there sometimes can be a negative portrayal of dads in the media and advertising world, he assured that, “I would never let this company go in that direction.”
Diaz relates to #withdad using his own personal experience as a dad of two adult sons, one in college, and one who started marine boot camp last week, where he felt a constant longing and struggle to spend time with his family, despite needing to leave for work every day and make a living.
Knowing its marketing splash is costly, Nissan felt its investment would be empty if there was not a call to action beyond cars and its message’s emotional pull. It has partnered with Wounded Warriors and Habitat for Humanity, donating $1 million to each as part of the Super Bowl promotion.
“The two are just a beautiful combination together, and we couldn’t go (back to the Super Bowl) in good conscience without giving back to America,” Diaz said.
All in all, Diaz is excited to see the #withdad commercial air in its full glory on Super Bowl Sunday from the comfort of his home, but the moment will be bittersweet: it’s the first game he and his wife will watch as empty nesters.
“When you see the full spot, I think what you’re going to see is a father who genuinely loves and cherishes time spent with his family,” Diaz said.