It all started a few years ago when the new Nissan GT-R's track time around the Nürburgring beat that of Porsches. Of couse Porsche disputed the lap times and the war of words has been ongoing since then. However, in the last few weeks the adversery has taken an entirely new twist. Nissan has started using modern guerilla marketing to convince potential Porsche, BMW and Audi customers to switch sides.
Under tag-lines such as "The Germans Came Off Wurst" or "How to beat the Germans", the Japanese giant has taken out massive outdoor advertising billboards to entice buyers. They get even funnier, how about "Kaisers Chiefed"? and "The Winner Hans Down"? The claim in the ads is Nissan's winning performance against its rivals at the Nürburgring.
The final straw came at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed which saw Nissan deck its cars out with logos of Porsche, BMW and Audi and etch the number of times it had beaten them around the 'Ring. Simply brilliant marketing.
Sources say Audi and BMW didn't think much of Nissan's claims to supremacy, however Nissan has a distinct ability to get under Porsche executives' skin. This resulted in a complaint being lodged against Nissan and reports suggest there were even threats of legal action against the Japanese company for using Porsche's logo without permission.
"The problem arose with them using our Porsche crests," Andrea Baker, head of public relations at Porsche told the Guardian Newspaper (UK). "They are our property and we do not give permission to any company to use our crests without our permission. This applies to any company."
Nissan couldn't have hoped for a better reaction, had Porsche not made a fuss about it, I wouldn't be writing this today. So of course they quickly complied and simply replaced the Porsche logo with the word Porsche instead.
No doubt Porsche as a company is in an entirely different category to Nissan, that much is common sense. Nonetheless, thanks to the Nissan GT-R and its unbelievable performance, the Japanese company has managed to lift its brand awareness to levels previously unimaginable. Nissan 1 - Porsche 0.