HISTORY: The story of Datsun, Nissan & Prince Switzerland – Part 6 “Marketing”

This is the sixth part of a multi-post series about the (hi)story of Datsun, Prince and Nissan in switzerland.  Check out the other parts HERE.

In this post we have a closer look at the work of the Marketing department at DSSA. Including advertizing, sales brochures, customer information, Promotional giveaways, Public relations, exhibitions and press releases from the very beginning to the early nineties. As usual with these posts, it includes many rare and yet unseen documents and photos.

1. Marketing
The advertising department made brochures and catalogues, the information leaflets for customers and exhibitions, but also provided the dealerships with merchandising materials, Catalog stands, promotional stuff and made sure they looked neat. They were also responsible for press support and had a fleet of press cars on hand. In the very early days (according to the documents, i would say up to mid 1969), the Advertising was done by an external Company (“AG Für werbeberatung”), until Datsun Switzerland had their own marketing department, as the previous part of this post series shows.

Since the Datsun brand was pretty unknown to the public and average potential car-buyer, they had to introduce it to the market first. The lineup of cars was pretty small in the beginning, so the focus was more on advertizing the whole brand in a positive way, instead of focussing on single cars. Their brochures where more about “who is Datsun and the Nissan Motor Co.”. The bigger and better-known the brand and company became in switzerland, the more diverse their range of advertizing and marketing material became and also their PR activities like sponsoring of sports, etc…

1.1 Brand identity
Trying to form a brand identity, and brand recognitiability, the advertizing department created slogans and similar advertizing styles for various products they offered. Depending on the year, ownership and marketing people, the design, Slogans and overal look of the brand changed several times.
The Slogans i found where
Datsun – Bringt neue Werte (Brings new values)
Datsun – Dein Freund auf Rädern (Your Friend on Wheels)
Datsun – Qualität und Zuverlässigkeit (Quality and reliability)

Once you start to puzzle together the various ads, stickers and other stuff, you realize the similar styles and how they changed over the years…
Usually you can find a whole range of documents in the same look and with the same slogan. Here for example a special 240Z flyer, three different brochures (backside) and a sticker, all in the same style and with the same slogan (in french, german and italian):

2. Advertizing
2.1 Print advertizing

The Print advertizing often had a similar look, fitting the previously shown style with the fonts slogans and overall style. Here are some examples of swiss newspaper and magazine ads from various years (click to enlarge)

2.2 Local dealership advertizing
If a dealership wanted to make their own advertizing, Datsun / Nissan switzerland would support them financially, based on the resulting car sales from said advertizing and there was quite an extensive guideline on how marketing has to be done in Radio, Cinemas / TV, direct-mailing, exhibitions, local dealerships, etc. This also includes which type of dealerships gets howmany catalogues of which types annually for free, etc… here’s an example of a local Newspaper advertizing by a dealership from the “Elsauer Zytig” in 1983:
The Dealerships had the possibility to buy Print stencils from the Datsun (suisse) SA and use them for local advertizing. Optionally with added information about their own dealership (see picture above). Here is a catalogue page from 1980 from DSSA, with a list of available stencils:

And here you can see such a metal (tin?) stencil as a negative for printing. It’s exactly the one advertized in the catalogue above on the top left:

This first of an 11-page 1991 Nissan switzerland Dealership guideline shows how a local dealership is supported money-wise (sometimes based on the sales figures) or with promotional material

2.3 Early Information brochures
From 1967 to the the late seventies the Datsun brand was not very well known and foreign, asian things especially, were a bit “exotic” and therefore needed introduction to the regular car buyer. So datsun released the “Datsun information” brochures. Aside from the usual Car related information, it also has lots of information about the Datsun brand, and the Nissan Mother company in Japan, with lots of facts and figures to inform a potential buyer about what (s)he is intending to buy. The brochures also include lots of information about the early Datsun switzerland company and many of the pictures in this post series come from these brochures. Here are some of those early Datsun Image brochures from my collection (1967 to 1972 shown):

2.4 Annual full lineup catalogues
Once the brand was established and better known, the catalogue became more the usual style of annual full car lineup catalogues with more car information and less brand building:

2.5 Model specific brochures
Of course they also made car model specific brochures to advertize each car in detail to an interested buyer, as it is still common today. Sometimes also grouped to a “Wagon” catalogue, or two models in one flyer (160B and 180B). See below a few random ones from my collection of swiss datsun car model brochures from the late sixties to the seventies. Many more (also swiss ones) can be found on www.zonedatsun.fr

2.6 Customer Magazines
Datsun / Nissan in some years also issued customer magazines. In the early seventies they had a newspaper type format, were called “Datsun RedSpot” and available printed in german, italian and french language, issued twice a year:

In the late 80ies and early nineties, the customer magazine was then called the “Nissan Star” Magazine. It contains customer success stories, interesting information about the Nissan brands, shows things like concept cars, and the latest collaboration projects, etc.

2.7 Motorsports in Advertizing
Motorsport was always a big part of not only Datsun Switzerland, but the worldwide Nissan promotion strategy. So it was also used widely as part of the brand identity, and you will find a lot of motorsport victory references and photos in many of the official documents and advertising:

Here for example the advertizing from the Autombil-Revue April 1971 issue, proudly shows the Racing results of the 1971 east african Safari rallye.

Here is the R381 Nissan Race car (“Not for sale”) shown in an 1969 AR advertizing. The same year this car was also shown at the DSSA Booth at the geneva international Motor show:

2.8 Cinema Advertizing
In the following April 1971 Service bulletin from Nissan switzerland to the dealerships, they also promoted their plan to produce Dias for the Cinema. With these Dias you would be able to advertize the car on the cinema screen before the movie started, or in the break.

3. Public relation
In Some cases, they made more of a public relation story where they just wished everybody a nice year (not linked to their business or cars directly at all), as shown in the left picture from January 1977. While in other cases, the advertizing was more of a “success story” where they announced the latest achievments of the NMC motherhouse, the Datsun brand in switzerland, or a specific car. Like the one shown in the right picture, from the Automobilrevue, March 1977 issue.

In the early eighties they even used swiss national football league coach Paul Wolfisberg to promote the Nissan bluebird, as seen on this sticker:

3.1 Promotional items
Another type of Public relaition work of Datsun (Suisse) SA and FMG was the release of all kind of promotional stuff over the years. Here are some of the swiss market stickers (including some none-swiss stickers)

Here’s an example of an original wrapped pile of Nissan cherry stickers from the Japanese headquarter, which i was able to obtain from a Nissan / Datsun Switzerland headquarter stock:

And also made these jo-jo’s which pop up for sale regularly:

And here a part of the 1971 Datsun “Red Spot” newspaper information (see above), where you could order Datsun branded T-shirts, free stickers, car specific sales brochures, etc..  I think many people took advantage of this, since many of those stickers still seem to be around these days…

Original swiss Datsun branded hoodies, and many other items were sold or given away over the years:

3.2 Dealership Marketing material
Aside from the Giveways and freebies for the general public, they also offered special promotional material for the dealerships. See here a few of the marketing items from my collection.
Datsun dealership Neon sign, Datsun window sales card, and Datsun shopping bag (all three swiss made):

4. Sponsoring
Nissan / Datsun switzerland sponsored many things over the years, like the famous zürich based football club “Grasshoppers”, the Swiss national Hockey leage, The Zurich transportation office (VBZ), Open air concerts, Offroad Car events, etc. As proudly shown here in the 1989 brochure:

They also sponsored the then well known Country-singer Jeff Turner. At one point, a lady who owned a bodyshop next to the Urdorf headquarter told me, Nissan raffled a Nissan Micra at a country music festival and the winner wanted it to be signed by Jeff turner. So she prepared the hood and clearcoated it after the signature was done. She even had some photos from that event in 1991 and another one from his nissan sponsored 1992 tour bus:

In 1981 they went as far as sponsoring the Junior ladies Cart world championship race in Locarno (Switzerland)

5. Shows and exhibitions
5.1. Dealership shows:
The headquarter was of course also trying to support the local dealerships whenever they wanted to do an exhibition or show at their dealership or at a local fair, so they prepared a few things for such cases:
In below order sheet, dealerships were able to order or rent an “exhibition box” kit from the headoffice, to make displays / booths at local exhibitions or at their shop, which included various Datsun / Nissan branded flags, banderoles, stands, display walls, lights, counters, etc..

This is an order sheet for a Print stencil template for a “Datsun show” from February 1980. A dealership could order this empty stencil from Datsun switzerland in different sizes and use it, filled with additional information about the show (like date and location, etc..), to print advertizing for the show in local newspapers or hand out flyers, for example:

5.2 Exhibitions:
Naturally, Datsun (Suisse) SA also had their booths at the bigger car exhibitions, the most advertized and international recognized one of course beeing the Geneva international Motor show (GIMS), or “Autosalon Genf” as we call it here. The following shot was taken at the 1978 show by Christoph sonderegger (From the ETH Archives)
If you’d like to find many more pictures of the Datsun booths from all the years at the Geneva international Motor show, head over to “Zwischengas.com” where they have plenty of them. Unfortunately, they did not allow me to use the photos for this post. You can see the pictures small-sized for free, but if you want to look at them in a useable resolution, you have to make a paid account. If you’re into it, it’s really worth the money. Here’s a press photo from the 1970 Datsun 240Z presentation at the geneva show:

6. Press releases and Print material
With every new car in the lineup, price changes, special sales or when showing stuff at an exhibition, Datsun switzerland released an officiall press release and print material like press photos, as shown below:

In some of the press releases, they also offered so called Cliche’s (lithographic master plates) to order, which the media then could use for their print production. Below you can see one of these lithographic plate next to a print of the same photo from an 1971 Press release.

Overall. DSSA and Nissan Switzerland pushed out quite a lot of advertizing and promotional material throughout the years and amazingly you still can find a lot of it these days, despite switzerland beeing such a small market. I know they also made radio advertizing, but was unfortunately not able to find something. Nevertheless, it’s cool to see how the brand evolved from the early typewriter documents to modern glossy prints and colourful advertizing and modern marketing.
In the next chapter, we have a look at the industrial and commercial vehicle business of Datsun and Nissan in switzerland. Check out the other parts HERE.

As with all my knowledge posts, i tried my best to get all information from trustworthy and official sources. However i can not guarantee that above information is 100% correct. If you have any correction, input or additional information, i appreciate if you let me know. I’ll update this post whenever i find something to add or change.
Also i put countless unpaid hours of research and work into this post and spent quite a bit of money to buy a lot of original documents, so please ask, before you copy anything, including the pictures. thanks!

Big Thanks to Marcel from the Bettelbrünneli Collection, Gerard from Zonedatsun, Heiko from Datsun.ch, Stefan from Cagedude, Lara from the Central Library of Zürich and the ETH Zürich team behind the E-Periodica Archives, Myrtha with her inside-knowlege and the historic Archive of the Verkehrshaus Luzern. Without all of you, this posts wouldn’t have been possible!
I also was in contact with some people at Nissan switzerland, but still waiting for some information until today. If i get anything, i will update these posts immediately.

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