The story behind the pitch: 8 questions for Nissan's Jonathan Adashek

Nissan chief communications officer Jonathan Adashek on why the automaker decided to bring on a single global PR AOR for the first time.

Jonathan Adashek
Jonathan Adashek

Nissan’s appointment of Edelman as its first global PR AOR will not affect its relationship with Omnicom Group’s Nissan United agency team, its chief communications officer, Jonathan Adashek, said Friday.

APCO Worldwide, Golin, and MSLGroup also pitched for the business. Omnicom Group, which created a multidisciplinary agency team known as Nissan United in 2013, did not pitch. Omnicom PR Group CEO Karen van Bergen said the holding company "decided not to participate" in the review, but did not elaborate further. Late last year, General Motors selected Omnicom agency FleishmanHillard as its first communications AOR for its brand in the U.S.

Adashek shed light on the pitch process and why the company brought on a single global AOR for the first time.

How does Nissan’s new relationship with Edelman affect Nissan United?
Jonathan Adashek:
It doesn’t. Nissan United is focused on marketing.

Omnicom never handled PR for Nissan as part of the Nissan United set up?
There might have been various locations around the world where we were using Omnicom’s PR services, but we were using a range of agencies [for PR] depending on markets and where we were in the world. Edelman was one of the agencies aiding us on a project basis. We started working with Edelman more than a year ago.

What will Edelman handle for you?
Adashek: It’s a standard remit. They could be doing product, corporate, internal, or helping us with strategy, issues, or reputation work.

There is no incumbent?
: There was no single global AOR, so what we have done is try to get a lot more consistency and effectiveness with our message and the comms work we are doing for the company and for all the brands around the world. The other piece of this is we are trying to get more efficiency. Reducing our number of agencies is going to help us get more efficient with our dollars. This is not going to be a one-size-fits-all situation by any stretch of the imagination.

Along with Edelman, APCO, Golin, and MSLGroup pitched for this business. Why didn’t Omnicom pitch?
: No comment, but Omnicom is a great partner for Nissan.

Is Edelman aiding Nissan with any specific objectives?
: We are trying to modernize our comms function. They are giving us a new approach to how we tell our story and how our company and products show up. That is going to be a big focus for us internally and externally.

When will Edelman start?
: We are working out its start date in the coming days and weeks. We have a lot of great partners around the world. We have to figure out where we’ll be making changes and certain places we’ll be adding a compliment. There is an extensive transition process that needs to occur.

Any further comments?
: This covers our Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands. We were fortunate in this process that we have four great agencies that presented great ideas, strategies, and concepts for us to evaluate. There was some great creativity from the Golin team, a great position from APCO, and a great data and analytics approach from MSLGroup.


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