Nissan Film GT ACADEMY USA by TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles

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Industry Cars, Sport Cars
Media Film
Market United States
Agency TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles
Director Jeff Zwart
Creative Director Tito Melega
Copywriter Steve Bolton
Producer Tim Newfang
Released June 2011


Cannes Lions 2012
Branded content & entertaiment lions Best non-fiction program, series or film where a client has successfully created a reality, documentary or light entertainment show around a product(s) or brand(s) Gold
Media Lions Best Use of Branded Content & Sponsorship Bronze
Branded content & entertaiment lions Best integrated content campaign Bronze

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best non-fiction program, series or film where a client has successfully created a reality, documentary or light entertainment show around a product(s) or brand(s)
Product/Service: NISSAN / GT-R / GRAN TURISMO 5
Agency: TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles, USA
Entrant TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles, USA
Type of Entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best non-fiction program, series or film where a client has successfully created a reality, documentary or light entertainment show around a product(s) or brand(s)
Advertiser/Client: NISSAN / PLAYSTATION
Product/Service: NISSAN / GT-R / GRAN TURISMO 5
Entrant Company: TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles, USA
DM/Advertising Agency: TBWA\CHIAT\DAY Los Angeles, USA
2nd DM/Advertising Agency: OMD Los Angeles, USA
Executive Producers: Frank Scherma/Dave O'Connor (
Director: Jeff Zwart (
Co-Executive Prodcuer: Larry Struber (
Story Producers: Michael Tolajian/Rachel Rudwall (
Website: Steve Savic/Michael Mcgrath-Sing/Peter Von Sass/Chrissie Graboski/James Cuff/Ste (Critical Mass)
Assistant Director Of Digital Strategy: Brad Souva (OMD)
Director Ignition Factory Gaming: Dario Raciti (OMD)
Group Director Of Strategy: Ed Beadle (OMD)
Editors/Post: Ting Poo/Brett Mason/Charlie Olivier/Tita Poe (Outpost Digital)
Event Directors: Laurence Wiltshire/Martyn Smith (Silverstone)
Account Team: Bonnie Schwartz/Patrick Jones/Craig Werwa/Beth Demarco/Peter Estermann/Ashton Du (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Executive Producer: Brian O'Rourke (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Associate Creative Directors: Jason Locey/Nik Piscitello (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Executive Director Of Integrated Production: Richard O'Neill (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Chief Creative Officer: Rob Schwartz (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Executive Business Affairs Manager: Robin Rossi (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Copywriter: Steve Bolton (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Producer: Tim Newfang (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Creative Director: Tito Melega (TBWA\Chiat\Day)
Editor - Web Content: Peter Smith (Venice Beach Editorial)
Describe the campaign/entry
With Tivo & DVR, more people are scanning right past commercials. If a company brings authentic value to the marketplace, then people will want to associate with that brand. And one of the quickest routes into the heart of customer is an engaging story. Ideally it’s not a fairytale, but a true story – one that demonstrates why the brand is unique & compelling.
Brands are now part of everyday life and companies have more occasions to connect with consumers. There has never been as many media opportunities to tell a story. However, consumers have less interest in being sold to, which makes the need for authentic messaging and organic execution essential. “Brought to you by” isn’t enough. And overt 'bite and smile' content that loudly calls out the brand does more harm than good. Effective Branded Entertainment is entertaining while baking the Brand into the story. Success starts with development of an idea versus 'band-aiding' the brand identity to fit a media buy or third-party story. A company must know what makes a good story and find their place within that structure. Nissan & Gran Turismo 5 are seamlessly integrated as main characters in the GT Academy story.


The project required integrating 2 brands and briefs:
1. With over 40 years of racing innovation but no official team currently in the US, Nissan wanted to demonstrate their performance profile to an audience of passionate millennial drivers.
2. With the launch of Gran Turismo 5, Sony PlayStation wanted to prove their game was the most realistic driver simulator on the market.
Nissan & Sony created GT Academy USA: a multi-platform programme that offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to take your driving skills from virtual to reality and become a professional racer. The consumer enjoyed the ride with gaming, events, branded entertainment and social media.
The platform was spread throughout the year with 4 phases:
1. On-line tournament in which gamers from across the country competed in Nissan vehicles to set their best GT5 times on PlayStation 3 consoles.
2. National Final event in Orlando where the top 32 gamers raced head-to-head on GT5 to determine the best 16.
3. GT Academy where 16 endured on & off the track challenges to decide 1 Champion.
4. Driver Development Program in which the GT Academy champion races in the USA and abroad for the Nissan team.

The project assimilated over 7 hours of different branded content in multiple mediums including websites, Facebook, PR activations, the PlayStation Network and a prime-time reality TV series of 5 1-hour episodes airing on SPEED.
Ultimately, GT Academy gave tens of thousands of motor sport & gaming enthusiasts a chance to actually fulfil their dream of racing real cars. The content followed the journey from beginning to end, with an out of work deliveryman from Fresno becoming the GT Academy USA Champion, and racing on 3 different continents with great success.

Describe the creative solution to the brief/objective.

An online media blitz and PR/social effort kicked off the programme. Then a calculated push of contestant-specific content surfaced on-line (web sites, blogs, PSN) with a profile video for each of the top 16 gamers.
The Facebook page delivered real-time question/answers of contestants and judges during events. Behind the scenes videos of the massive production efforts to spread buzz for the upcoming TV series.
Promotional efforts for the TV show on SPEED delivered over 40MM impressions across TV, online, PR. Utilising additional Nissan ad inventory, promos aired on larger networks, including Fox NFL coverage. Longer trailers ran on web banners.

Describe the results in as much detail as possible.

GT Academy was a huge success:
• Over 1.5m Gran Turismo 5 units were sold in the U.S.
• Over 53,000 virtual drivers spent thousands of hours driving 370Zs in the game with over 35% of them 'opting in' for more info on Nissan vehicles.
• Nissan Performance page saw a 31% increase in engagement.
• TV series was watched by 8.3M HH’s and 4.4M P25-54 viewers - 40% above estimates and 12% improvement on the timeslot from previous year on SPEED.
• ITVX estimated the product placement value per episode at $175,500.
• PR & Social Media garnered over 300M impressions.
• A virtual racer actually became a real race car driver. GT Academy USA Champion, Bryan Heitkotter, has raced on over 3 continents with amazing success including the team’s best qualifying position of the season at the Mid-Ohio Race and a 3rd place finish at 24-hours of Dubai, proving the performance of Nissan and realism of Gran Turismo 5.