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What You Need to Know About Automotive Manufacturing Advertising Compliance for Nissan Dealerships

Each automotive manufacturer advertising program is different.  In this article, we will explore Nissan – a manufacturer that runs a compliance system broken out into two important sections.

 

The Basics
Like many of their Japanese automotive competitors, Nissan runs a compliance advertising system that puts non-compliant dealers at risk of manufacturer strikes and financial penalties.  Those penalties, which are tiered and automatically applied based on how many strikes the dealership has received, come via the suspension of ad credits that are provided to the dealership for every vehicle that is purchased from the factory.

As of 2020, Nissan uses Ansira to manage their manufacturer compliance program – titled the RMP Co-Marketing Program. Ansira manages pre-approval requests and dealer monitoring.  For basic pre-approval requests (things like Facebook ads, broadcast scripts and creative, video ads, e-mail blasts, direct mail, etc.) an approval or decline will be provided within 24 business hours of submissions and, if declined, will include details on what to remedy. While not technically required, submitting all advertising and marketing elements for pre-approval is advised as the only way to ensure that your dealership does not become subject to financial penalties.

Each time you submit a pre-approval, it will be reviewed for compliance to two policies.  The first is Nissan’s Brand Allowance Program (BAP) which monitors vehicle pricing and offer components.  The second is Nissan’s Visual Identity Program which manages brand aesthetics, logo and font use, and other identification rules.  Let’s break down these programs one at a time and go into greater detail as to what is required to stay within compliance.

 

Submitting Advertisements for Pre-Approval
Submitting pre-approvals for Nissan dealerships is a simple process using an online portal.  Nissan dealers have direct access to do this via NNANet.  Marketing and advertising companies that work with a Nissan dealership may request access to submit on the dealership’s behalf using their dealer code.  These requests are then approved by the dealership prior to giving the third-party team access to submit pre-approvals.

 

Nissan Brand Allowance Program Rules
Nissan rolled out the Brand Allowance Program to bring dealership retail pricing into a more consistent state.  Throughout the late 2010s, Nissan was regularly viewed as one of the leading “discount” brands; an identity that Nissan wanted to discontinue.  There were also concerns about long-term brand damage resulting from diminished vehicle residual values.  For this program, dealers earn 2% of dealer net plus $50.

BAP restrictions only apply to new Nissan models that are unsold.  Nissan will often remove BAP restrictions on prior model year vehicles once the new model year vehicles are released. This gives dealers extra flexibility to sell down the older units.  Certified Pre-Owned Nissans and used vehicles (Nissan or otherwise) are not reviewed as part of the BAP process.

To participate in the BAP process a dealership must hit three criteria:

  • Dealership display of Customer Promise placard
  • Dealership completion of Nissan delivery course
  • Advertising must meet minimum advertised price

For this article we’re going to focus on the advertised price component.  When advertising an offer on a new Nissan vehicle, your advertising must include the following:

  • Retail offers
    • A full 17-digit VIN or the last 8 characters of the VIN
    • Dealers must advertise units within model and model year-specific thresholds provided by the manufacturer.
      • All advertised offers must only include incentives that are offered within the DMA that the dealership serves.
      • Advertised offers may not include conditional rebates that the general public may not qualify for.
    • Lease offers
      • A full 17-digit VIN or the last 8 characters of the VIN
      • Must include a lease sale price (cap cost) that is equal or greater to the invoice price of the vehicle minus available incentives

Failure to adhere to these rules will result in strikes being issued to the advertising dealership.  The first BAP strike is a warning with no financial consequences.  If the dealership is strike-free for the following 90 days from the date that the strike was issued, the strike will be removed.  If the dealership picks up a second strike within 90 days of the first one being issued, then the dealership will forfeit any BAP funds that remain for the month that the second strike was issued, plus all funds from the following month as well.

Strikes may be appealed and removed.  Sending your advertising, including your website, in for pre-approval is a critical step to getting strikes successfully overturned.

 

Nissan Visual Identity Program Rules
Nissan provides dealers with approximately $250/unit purchased from the factory, as a marketing credit to assist in the retail of the vehicle.  It is expected that dealers will spend at least that much to market their dealership.  That credit is subject to adherence to a series of aesthetic and brand-identity guidelines.  Major points of consideration include:

  • The correct Nissan logo/wordmark must be used, and in factory sanctioned ways, such as being unaltered with appropriate spacing around it.
  • All Nissan dealership new-vehicle marketing must feature the Nissan brand exclusively.
  • Every time “Nissan” or any of the models and trims appears in text, they must be in a Nissan-approved font. A best practice is to exclusively use the Nissan-approved font throughout the project you’re working on.
  • Advertising must not be misleading and must feature the DBA of the dealership.
  • VIN numbers must be featured when offers are promoted.
  • Advertising must include the down payment and other terms and conditions in a clear, easy to understand manner.
  • Dealers may not imply preferential status or advertise in distressed ways.
  • All discounts must be from MSRP.
  • There are many other smaller rules but those usually only come into play in special circumstances.

When found in violation of Nissan Visual Identity Rules, a dealer will receive a strike.  As of September 2020, the following actions are taken, in this order, as strikes are accrued:

  1. Strike issued – warning letter provided to the dealership
  2. Strike issued – warning letter provided to the dealership
  3. Strike issued – 60-day suspension of funds
  4. Strike issued – additional 30-day suspension of funds
  5. Strike issued – additional 180-day suspension of funds

 

Best Practices

  • Send every ad out for pre-approval. This will give you the ammunition you need to appeal strikes that may be assessed to your dealership.
  • Save every pre-approval and have the reference numbers ready to go whenever you’re contacting the Nissan monitoring team.
  • Don’t take evergreen assets and commercials for granted. Submit them regularly.  Getting them pre-approved once does not mean that they will be pre-approved again.
  • As with every manufacturer compliance blog we write (recent examples – CDJRF, Ford), remember that the people at Nissan compliance are working as hard and as diligently as they can.  Sometimes mistakes happen and the more calm, reasoned and prepared you are for a call, the more likely you are to reach your preferred outcome.

If you’re a Nissan dealer who is having trouble navigating the complex factory go-to-market rules, you’re welcome to reach out to CBC Automotive Marketing at any time. We take compliance very seriously at our agency, and would love to talk to you about your situation. Let’s have a conversation.

 

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