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Nissan appeals to truck fans’ passion with Facebook-driven design

project titan truck

Nissan Motor Co. is inviting its Facebook fans to choose the design for a truck that will carry two Wounded Warrior Project Alumni through the Alaskan wilderness this summer in an adventure that will be chronicled on YouTube.

The Japanese automaker announced Wednesday that Project Titan will let fans vote on custom modifications for a 2014 Nissan Titan, an off-road truck that will take two veterans of the US military on an extreme road test of the vehicle’s carrying power. For Nissan, the project is a way to build sales amid a cooling Asia-Pacific economy while engaging customers in supporting a notable cause.

“We're always looking for ways to publish unique, exciting and shareable content in social media,” said Erich Marx, director of interactive and social media marketing for Nashville, TN-based Nissan North America.

“Trucks fans are especially passionate about their vehicles, and we wanted to recreate the energy that our Project 370Z generated among our performance fans and do something epic for our Nissan Titan,” he said.

Enlisting public’s help
Participants need only a device that can view mobile or desktop content from Facebook. After the votes are tallied, the winning parts and accessories will be added to the truck, Nissan said.

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Videos and photos of the truck’s manufacture will be shared with fans on YouTube. Delivery is expected this summer.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a Jacksonville, FL-based organization that seeks to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service members. Marking its 10th anniversary this year, it serves 50,000 warriors and nearly 7,000 family members through 20 programs and services.

On March 21, Nissan said it and Wounded Warrior had chosen two Iraqi war veterans, David Guzman and Kevin McMahon, for the task of putting the Titan through its paces in the Alaskan wild. Both soldiers suffered significant injuries during their military service, Nissan said.

During a night convoy mission in Iraq, Guzman sustained a traumatic brain injury in addition to damaging his leg, wrist and mouth, Nissan said. McMahon also suffered several emotional and physical traumas requiring several surgeries during multiple global deployments, the automaker said.

Into the wild
Once the truck is built, Guzman and McMahon will load it with an array of outdoor recreational and survival gear, according to Nissan. The Titan has a maximum towing capacity of 9,500 lbs.

Nissan will document their expedition and produce a YouTube series launching in September, it said.
The project – Nissan’s second involving public participation using crowdsourcing – elicited praise from both followers of social media and automotive industry observers.

“Social media allows companies to create engagement with customers on a larger scale, and at a more rapid pace, than ever before,” said Peter Trujillo, who follows social media for market-research firm J.D. Power and Associates in Westlake Village, CA.

 “Nissan’s partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project does two great things: It supports a worthy cause and creates excitement and engagement around their vehicles,” he said.

 “Voting for a specific equipment package creates interaction with the brand, and it also helps consumers learn about the customization of the vehicle. It also could create interest in other vehicles that shoppers may not have even considered previously.”

Engaging the public
Opening Roger Lanctot, associate director of the automotive practice at Newton, MA-based Strategy Analytics, said the project reflects how car companies generally are trying to open up the doors and windows to let in new thinking and engage more directly with the public.

“It also allows them to put the power of their brand behind raising awareness for veterans issues,” Mr. Lanctot said. 

“All of that makes a positive contribution to the brand halo.”

Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.

Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York.

 
Related content: Social networks, Nissan, Erich Marx, Peter Trujillo, Roger Lanctot

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