Staff Reporters
Jun 17, 2021

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Nirmal Nair, Nissan

The automaker’s top marketer across Southeast Asia has seen big improvements in brand affinity this past year after giving the brand some edge through impactful new work.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Nirmal Nair, Nissan
SEE THE FULL 2021 POWER LIST
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers
#LeadersForGood
 

Nirmal Nair

VP of marketing, ASEAN
Nissan
Thailand
New member

In recent years, Nissan has been hit hard by a CEO misconduct scandal and a stretched financial balance sheet. The brand was in need of rejuvenation, and the marketer tasked with delivering that across Asia and Oceania was Nirmal Nair. Last fall, he spearheaded a fresh brand campaign across Australia and key Southeast Asian markets that included new websites and the first brand-led video in the region, which Nissan claims surpassed 120 million views within mere weeks. 

Under the theme ‘Dare the Impossible’, the campaign gave Nissan a new edge, allying with nonconformists and positioning the brand as a challenger led by new positioning as an electric vehicle leader. While it would be simplistic to credit one campaign for a turnaround, Nair says those who were exposed to the work have a much higher opinion of the brand, on top of an overall +20 point gain in brand opinion across key markets.  

But the highlight for Nair personally, he says, has been to witness an internal shift in ensuring people across the company take an active role in brand improvement. In addition, Nissan’s agency model has been reworked and streamlined, with guidelines based on local insights that are matched to global palettes. 

If that wasn’t enough change for Nair to push ahead, further rethinking has involved moving away from Nissan’s age and demographic customer analysis in favour of data-led audience bucketing based on how close prospects are in their journey toward purchase. Then it’s about finding new ways to engage during Covid, using virtual events, KOLs and social platforms. 

A believer in diversity as a great strength, Nair, who is now VP of marketing for ASEAN, advocates a ‘work hard but play hard’ culture for his 50-50 gender split team, in which he says everyone’s opinions are not only heard, but matter. 

SEE THE FULL 2021 POWER LIST
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers
#LeadersForGood
 

 

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