- September 18, 2020

The Superhero and the 2020 Nissan Sentra

Did Brie Larson help Nissan attract prospects to the 2020 Sentra?

Dennis Bulgarelli
Dennis Bulgarelli
Vice President, Auto

The 2020 Nissan Sentra went on sale earlier this year in March when Nissan launched it with an ad featuring actress Brie Larson, more popularly known on the screen as Captain Marvel. The ad had an empowering “no compromises” theme, but it was not too popular with online commentators. Nissan disabled comments on YouTube after much backlash, mostly from the actress’s behind the scenes video.

While the ad may have received criticism among online commentators, those that didn’t like its tone, there are other ways to measure the success of an ad. Namely, did it reach the desired audience, did it create demand for the new model and did it inspire prospects to shop for the model? Using Comscore’s Exact Commercial Ratings (ECR) along with in-market shopper data, we were able to understand the overall impact the ad had on creating interest in the new Sentra.

ECR, using a feature unique to Comscore, summarizes ad viewing (commercials only) rather than program viewing (content + commercials) by calculating the rating and average audience specific to that individual ad’s second by second ad run. In addition, Comscore has the ability to measure ad performance against specific audience segments, including vehicle owners and those who own specific makes and models.

Using this commercial-specific data, the new Sentra ad reached an average of nearly 400,000 households per airing and was effective at reaching competitive owners as well as owners of the Nissan Sentra. The ad performed especially well against Chevy Cruze and Kia Forte owners.

In addition, the ad also performed well against current Sentra owners indicating it was effective at reaching its base in addition to reaching competitive prospects. Driving interest among competitive prospects is a key strategy for many auto manufacturers as it expands their model’s base and can help drive incremental sales.

Brie Larson Sentra Commercial Viewership

The ad reaching its potential target is one measure of success. Another measure is how much in-market shopping occurred during and after the launch of the new Sentra ad. Comscore tracks new vehicle shopper data via a proprietary database that examines online shopping behavior based on engagement with key lower funnel shopping activity on third-party automotive shopping sites, such as Edmunds, KBB, CarGurus, Cars.com, and similar sites.

During the course of the new ad’s launch, Sentra shopper volume increased significantly year-over-year from February 2020 through July 2020, with the exception of two months, May and June. Significantly, two of the largest year-over-year increases came in March and April, during the depths of the pandemic when industry shopper volume declined 11% and 27% respectively vs. their year ago levels.

Sentra Shopper Volume

And while May showed a significant volume decline – which by the way was during a time when the ad was not running – it rebounded in June and July when airings picked up again. Clearly, while online critics saw faults, in-market consumers reacted favorably to the ad by shopping for the new model.

In addition, competitive owners were among those shopping for the new Sentra. While the ad reached competitive owners as outlined above, they were also more likely to shop for the new Sentra, contributing to Sentra’s shopper volume increase. This is significant because prior to the launch, the Nissan Sentra was almost an afterthought among competitive prospects. Sentra just wasn’t on many prospective buyers’ list of vehicles to consider. Elantra prospects especially were interested, as Sentra consistently cracked their top 10 models shopped and even made it into their top 5. Competitive interest is important because it puts an expanded set of eyes on the model and enables prospects to favorably compare it to other vehicles they have an interest in. And that’s half the battle.

So, while it appears the ad wasn’t a big hit with YouTube commentators, the ad nonetheless did its job in helping to drive interest in the new Sentra among its base as well as among competitive owners and those shopping for a new vehicle.

To learn more about Exact Commercial Ratings as well as Comscore’s ability to measure in-market shoppers and engagement, contact us today.