Nissan’s long-running Heisman program features college athlete for first time

    • Nissan is bringing back its long-running “Heisman House” campaign with the addition of a college-level athlete and a play around the metaverse, per a news release.
    • The seasonal effort has added Bryce Young, the latest Heisman Trophy winner, as part of the automaker’s first NCAA Student Athlete NIL partnership. Young appears in ads as a fish out of water joining older trophy holders as they fraternize and compete at the titular mansion.   
    • The 2022 iteration of the program includes 10 new spots in total, as well as the launch of a virtual version of the Heisman House that visitors can explore using a custom avatar. The marketer is also creating free nonfungible tokens (NFT) for fans to collect that can unlock additional experiences related to the coveted trophy and its past winners.

    Nissan is putting a fresh coat of paint on its “Heisman House” campaign, now in its 12th year, through the addition of metaverse tactics and its first-ever NIL partnership. The strategy speaks to how sports marketers are taking advantage of the ability to spotlight college talent more prominently, as well as the growing importance of hybrid digital experiences.

    The Heisman Trophy is awarded annually to the most outstanding player in college football, but prior NCAA restrictions around the NIL (name, image and likeness) of its athletes created barriers for brands looking to work with young stars. Since those constraints loosened last year following a ruling that college athletes can be compensated for their NIL, advertisers have rushed in, with Nissan seeking to bridge the generational divide in its latest football push. 

    In the new ads, Young, now a junior at the University of Alabama, is given a tour of the Heisman House by Tim Tebow. Tebow is quick to remind the Crimson Tide quarterback that he was the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman, setting up a running theme that old competitive habits die hard.

    Other past Heisman winners featured in the creative include Devonta Smith, Kyler Murray, Desmond Howard, Barry Sanders, Baker Mayfield, Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III, Charlie Ward and Derrick Henry, along with former player and coach Steve Spurrier. The automaker is showcasing the 2023 Nissan Z, 2022 Nissan Frontier, 2023 Nissan Pathfinder and 2023 Nissan Ariya, a new all-electric crossover vehicle, throughout the campaign. 

    The batch of commercials will air during “Monday Night Football” on ESPN and across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX, FS1, CBS and CBS Sports Network. Nissan and ESPN will also post behind-the-scenes footage, bloopers and other content through the broadcaster’s digital channels. On social media, Nissan is promoting a series of polls, challenges and quizzes on apps like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.  

    Elsewhere on the digital front, Nissan is trying its hand at the metaverse through a virtual version of the fraternity house. The web-based experience lets users interact with athletes and mascots, find Easter eggs and participate in games against other players. The NFT components carry no fee, removing one of the barriers to entry for digital collectibles. Updates around the drops will be shared at and in the fall.


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