- Nissan is souping up its long-running “Heisman House” program celebrating Heisman Trophy winners through a Zillow partnership, influencer marketing and nonfungible tokens (NFT), according to a news release. The effort is developed in partnership with ESPN.
- Starting Sept. 1, visitors to the online real-estate platform Zillow can explore the sprawling mansion dedicated to college football greats in detail. The automaker is also opening a virtual version of the house on Sept. 8, building on a metaverse-oriented play from last year.
- Nissan has also teamed with Caleb Simpson, a creator known for showing off homes and apartments on TikTok and Instagram, to tour the Heisman House with help from athletes and mascots.
Nissan is honing its digital engagement strategy around the Heisman House, a college football marketing effort now in its 13th season. The automaker is again uniting young talent with past Heisman Trophy winners under one roof, a sprawling estate that consumers can explore virtually and through the lens of influencer partnerships.
The latest iteration of the concept welcomes the addition of Caleb Williams, the University of Southern California quarterback who secured collegiate football’s top honor in 2022. In new ads, Williams reflects on how he used to question whether the Heisman House is real before walking viewers through a day in the life. Other athlete ambassadors represent five decades of Heisman winners, with cameos from NFL players including Robert Griffin III, Barry Sanders and Tim Tebow.
Eleven Heisman Trophy winners total feature in the latest Heisman House. Among the ranks is Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL draft pick in 2023. Young starred in last year’s “Heisman House” blitz as part of Nissan’s first NIL (name, image and likeness) deal with a collegiate athlete.
Williams, Young and the rest of the crew pal around in a series of eight spots that will air throughout the season. Two ads, “Is It Real?” and “Covering the Spread,” begin running today (Aug. 31) on ESPN while the campaign will also appear on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Nissan is using the opportunity to promote its Frontier, Rogue, Sentra, all-electric Ariya SUV and Z NISMO1 models, the latter of which isn’t yet available for sale.
While Nissan is enacting a heavy traditional media push to align with college football mania, it’s also putting more muscle behind digital activations. The tie-up with Zillow, a home-hunting platform, and creators like Caleb Simpson could help Nissan engage young consumers who have cut the cord on traditional TV. Simpson wields 7.7 million followers on TikTok, a key channel for reaching Gen Z. In “Is It Real?,” some of the older Heisman players have fun with the idea of “doing a Tikky-Tok,” leading Williams to respond that the house is “just like campus.”
Additionally, Nissan is providing an NFT pass that accesses exclusive content and experiences, including the chance to score tickets to major games. The pass is available for free at TheHeismanHouse.com or can be claimed in person at Nissan’s roving Heisman House Tour that will hit several college campuses.
“In addition to all the hijinks with the Heisman winners, we’re expanding the Heisman House excitement with digital collaborations to bring fans closer to the action,” said Marisstella Marinkovic, vice president and chief marketing officer at Nissan U.S., in a statement.