Brand Strategy

How Nissan sought out Lofi Girl listeners and built a following of its own

The company saw an opportunity to provide listeners with a similar experience and ran with it.
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Nissan via YouTube

· 3 min read

At any given moment, thousands of people are listening to Lofi Girl on YouTube. The account, which features livestreams of instrumental music often listened to while sleeping or studying, has more than 12 million subscribers and has become a brand of its own, in part because of its signature animation.

In an effort to capitalize on the cultural phenomenon, Nissan developed its own four-hour video, which it’s running as a six-minute ad before Lofi Girl videos. The look and sound are similar enough that some listeners may not realize that they’re vibing to an ad at first—but many don’t seem to mind.

In two months, Nissan’s video has gotten more than 12 million views, with one commenter saying it’s the only ad they’ve listened to all the way through.

“You don’t see that very often,” Allyson Witherspoon, global CMO of Nissan, told Marketing Brew. By making an ad that doesn’t feel like an ad, she said her team has been “blown away by the results.”

Lo risk, high reward

Nissan’s lofi video was created as part of a broader release plan for the Ariya electric vehicle, which also includes a pronunciation campaign on TikTok featuring celebs and influencers.

After seeing data that indicated people interested in lofi music were more likely to be interested in electric vehicles, Witherspoon said the company wanted to home in on that insight.

“I wouldn’t say that we set out to be the first brand to do [a lofi video],” she said. “This is where we found the audience that we thought that we could reach.”

Nissan has exclusive advertising rights to Lofi Girl content right now, Witherspoon said. She confirmed it’s also running ad units on YouTube, but would not share budget numbers.

While it’s one thing to target an audience, it’s another to hook them with relevant content. “That’s the exciting part about marketing, but also sometimes the difficult part,” she said. “People don’t watch every single channel, so you really have to find where they are and what type of content and what type of format that they’re looking for.”

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To create the ad, Witherspoon said Nissan worked with Google to identify production partners The Mayda Creative Co. and Titmouse that were working with other lofi creators to design the right look, while also incorporating branded elements to advertise the Ariya.

“We know that we knew that we wanted it to take place inside the vehicle,” she said. “We wanted it to be something that could be engaging where you have different scenery that’s passed you in the background.”

Throughout the four-hour video, branded elements—like Ariya billboards—appear to help reinforce the brand message as the main character drives through different landscapes.

Reaping the rewards

Since posting in February, Witherspoon said the video has accumulated more than 1.1 million hours of watch time. She added that the company’s subscriber numbers have gone up by at least 27,000 and it’s also received 35,000 playlist additions on YouTube.

Beyond that, Witherspoon said Nissan saw a 75% lift in product search for the Ariya between February 1 and March 8 compared to the month prior, exceeding its goal of 50%–60%. “When you see consumers start to search for you natively, that’s when you know that what you have going on is starting to work,” she said.

One of the key takeaways from this campaign, according to Witherspoon, is that “sometimes advertising can be background noise.”

Perhaps the best part, according to one listener? Ads don’t have ad breaks.

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