Staff Reporters
Jun 29, 2020

Asia-Pacific Power List 2020: Masao Tsutsumi, Nissan

Scoring a coup with the early sponsorship of tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, Tsutsumi has added some bright spots to a dark few years for the auto brand.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2020: Masao Tsutsumi, Nissan
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Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers
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Masao Tsutsumi

General manager, Japan marketing
Nissan Motor
Japan

The past year and a half have not been especially bright for Nissan; the brand has been under a shadow since a major corporate scandal involving the former chairman was unearthed. Since then, news of sales declines, market exits, cost-cutting and restructuring have dominated the car company’s headlines. The difficult job of offsetting those headlines has fallen to Nissan’s top marketer in Japan, Masao Tsutsumi.

Yet with remarkable timing, Tsutsumi scored an immediate marketing coup on joining the company in 2018, convincing skeptical colleagues to officially sponsor a rising young Japanese-born female tennis talent named Naomi Osaka, whose only other deal was with a middling watch brand at the time. Mere months later, US Open champion and national hero Osaka was on stage at company headquarters in Yokohama describing her love of Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicle and GT-R sportscar, a special Osaka-branded edition of which quickly sold out. And as Osaka’s star continued to rise, pushing social boundaries on what it means to be a Japanese role model, it was car company Nissan that went along for the ride.

But one signing does not a marketing strategy make, and Tsutsumi knows this well. Aware that more customers are making purchasing decisions online before entering showrooms, Tsutsumi has been working to differentiate Nissan from competitors by having multiple sets of customised mobile creative work for every car model and monitoring media investments in real-time. It’s a fast-moving approach that’s enabled him to tap his CPG brand background. Tsutsumi began his marketing career with P&G in 2004 working for Iams and Ariel. In 2010 he moved to Philips to lead the expansion of its male grooming category before joining Skylar, Bain Capital’s largest restaurant chain in its Japanese portfolio. Tsutsumi gives regular media interviews and participates in industry events like Adtech Tokyo.

SEE THE FULL 2020 POWER LIST
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers
#LeadersForGood