YOKOHAMA, JAPAN—Nissan has brought in Waggener Edstrom to manage public relations in South Africa, amid a broader global deal with a range of Omnicom Group agencies.
Waggener Edstrom secures the assignment following a competitive review that began in July. While the brief focused on a number of African markets, it is understood that the agency's remit will begin with a focus on South Africa, where the Nissan Leaf will soon become the first electric car available for purchase.
Nissan's relationship with regional and local market agencies is unaffected by the formation of Nissan United, a multi-agency Omnicom team that has been established to oversee the brand's communications, advertising, marketing, media, promotions and digital services.
The new structure, said Nissan global communications VP Jeff Kuhlman, aims to give Nissan access to Omnicom assets above and beyond its existing agencies.
"Just as our comms teams won’t always have the right people for a specific assignment, any one agency within Omnicom might not have exactly what we need for a current assignment," said Kuhlman. "It doesn’t have to change anything in terms of relationships. However, it can augment those relationships with the right talent that’s required by the current situation."
The communications presence on Nissan United is led by Kiersten Zweibaum, managing director of Emanate. Nissan also works with Omnicom agencies Stratacomm in the US and Ketchum in Europe.
"[Zweibaum] sits on Nissan United as my representative - she’s representing all of Omnicom and we speak at least once a week," explained Kuhlman. "It doesn’t mean Emanate is our agency of record, it means she is my Omnicom representative."
"For example, we’re working on a development of strategy, and she identified that the best resource for that within Omnicom Group was Ketchum Change," added Kuhlman. "It’s about opportunity, bringing in ideas, making sure I’m up to speed."
Nissan merged its marketing and communications departments in 2010, as one of many companies that is searching for better integration in its engagement efforts. Nissan United, said Kuhlman, is "certainly inspired" by that process.
"It indicates a new way to approach the business of marketing communications. Anyone who believes that the situation that existed 10, 15, 20 years ago is the same now is kidding themselves."