What SMB’s can learn from Nissan’s Heisman House

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Heisman House

Any college football fan knows of the Heisman House, a popular series of TV commercials for years featuring College Gameday. I visited the University of Notre Dame for the Michigan game earlier this year and an unexpected surprise was the Nissan Heisman House experience.  Located next to the main tailgating area, this was well crafted experiential marketing.

There were several components of this experience that deserve a mention, and those same things can also be instructive to SMB’s that are creating their own experiences for their Small/Medium Businesses, using more modest budgets no doubt.

First: the experience was noticeable, “on brand” and it was in a high traffic area.  The facade looked like a stone building with Roman columns.  For SMB’s, make sure your experience is clearly defined, in a high traffic area and reflects your brand.  Notice how many signs are shown for ESPN and Nissan.

Second: the entrance into the venue required a quick sign up of name and email address.  This was fast and done on tablets manned by a few staffers at the door.  An official looking credential was issued which most people wore around their necks – prompting conversation with others (after the experience) and driving more traffic.  For SMB’s, capturing name and address allows for follow up opportunity and lead nurturing to fully capitalize on the event.

Third, there was a mix of fun things to do inside, like getting your picture with the official Heisman Trophy, answering Heisman trivia, and interacting with a Nissan touch-screen configurator (next to a brand new Nissan of course).  People that did all of these things received a free T-Shirt, which was promoted at the front door.  This was designed to keep you entertained and interacting with the Nissan brand before you exited.  The idea of a free T-Shirt no doubt kept some visitor waiting patiently in line for a photo, who would have otherwise left.  Obviously, free photo’s feed the social media content of visitors, multiplying the brand exposure exponentially.


I’m sure there were other subtle details that I’m missing in the entire design of this experience, but the biggest take-aways for SMB’s designing their own experiential marketing are 1) make it noticeable and on-brand, 2) capture name and email and provide some value back for that to the visitor, and 3) make it fun, memorable and “share-able” to get maximum brand exposure.



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