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Nissan?s Red Thumb campaign drives visual, social engagement

Nissan is asking drivers to refrain from texting while driving in a new campaign with Adam Levine called Red Thumb and is boosting its efforts with promoted ads on Instagram and a hashtag.

Red Thumb is handing the wheel to consumers by allowing them to participate in their own ways. Consumers are asked to post their red thumb selfies to social media using their own creativity using the hashtag to spread the word.

?Promoting via Instagram is ideal because it encourages users to participate by taking photos - a behavior that they are already accustomed to,? said Esha Shah, manager of mobile strategy at Fetch, San Francisco. ?Encouraging the use of the hashtag also give the campaign the potential to go viral. 

?Additionally, enlisting celebrity Adam Levine to be the face of the campaign is a smart move on Nissan?s part, as it will encourage his fan base, already active on Instagram, to participate,? she said. ?Instagram has proven to be a success with a younger audience after campaigns by Taco Bell and Hollister saw a great return on their Instagram investment earlier this year.

?Younger audiences are less susceptible to traditional advertising, so by advertising where they are comfortable, such as Instagram, and by adapting Nissan's ads specifically to the platform, Nissan could see this campaign as a great way to engage its audience that is readying to purchase their first or second car.? 

Widespread awareness
Nissan created a short video advertisement, viewable on YouTube, featuring Adam Levine and shots of singing show The Voice, on which Mr. Levine serves as a judge.

Mr. Levine announces the Red Thumb campaign and asks users to participate in their own ways by posting selfies to social media. Ever since the takeoff of The Voice, the public has been paying extra attention to the Maroon 5 star. Therefore, it is beneficial for Nissan to leverage his public appeal for the efforts of its campaign.

Nissan is also tapping promoted ads on Instagram.

Its post shows a photo of Mr. Levine sitting in the driver seat of a car giving a ?thumbs up? hand motion outside the window. His thumb appears to have a red rubber band around it, similar to the one in the YouTube ad.

Nissan?s Web site at gives consumers ideas through a number of photos of how to participate in the campaign. Some have red rubber bands on their thumbs, while other paint their thumbs nail with red polish and draw a red ?X? on their thumbs.

Nissan encourages consumers to share their efforts on Facebook and Twitter and change their profile picture to support the initiative.

As of press deadline, 4,671 users have made the pledge, and more than 23,000 uses of the hashtag #RedThumb have been mentioned.

The inspiration of the initiative arose from creator Steve Babcock?s daughter tying a red ribbon around her finger to remind her of something. Therefore, Mr. Babcock painted his thumbnail red to remind him to not text while driving.

When users visit a participating Nissan dealer, they can take the pledge and enter a sweepstakes for a chance to attend the tailgate and Season 8 Finale of The Voice. 

Driving social
Nissan is an automotive brand known to target its marketing efforts toward social media.

Nissan has garnered audience support for its 2015 Leaf vehicle with a participation-driven social media campaign on Twitter and Instagram and a series of online videos on YouTube.

The online videos aim to showcase the self-cleaning nano-paint technology on a zero-emissions LEAF car, which began with the launch of ?The Nissan Paint Prank.? The car brand hopes to drum up consumer interest by allowing them to vote on materials used in the final set of videos, designed to display the vehicle?s ability to clean itself from a variety of liquids (see story).

Nissan's digital and social marketing campaign for its rugged commercial vans starred Poison lead singer Bret Michaels and used humor, making the statement that business-to-business ads do not have to be boring.

The comprehensive "Tough Love" digital and print effort spanned across a variety of social media and digital platforms, including AOL, Google, Fortune, Entrepreneur, KKB, Edmunds, Cars Direct and Auto Traders. As B2B decision makers are increasingly spending more time on social channels, social media advertising is one way to engage with prospects, create awareness and top of mind recall for a brand. A Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer sentiment on 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising formats, and found that 47 percent of global respondents agreed that humorous ads resonated the most (see story).

?Instagram is an ideal platform for Nissan to use to promote its Red Thumb campaign,? Ms. Shah said. ?The campaign itself has a visual component, which lends itself well to Instagram as Nissan is asking people to either wear a red band on their thumb or paint their nail red to remind themselves not to text and drive.?

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York