Nissan ‘Detour’ Invites Customers to Take Virtual Test Drive

journey-kickoffTo get consumers to come to dealerships and go on real test drives, Nissan wants to take them on virtual test drives first.

That’s why the brand has launched The Detour, a custom test drive experience it calls “an exciting virtual driving adventure in support of the ongoing rollout of the all-new 2014 Nissan Rogue compact SUV.”

The Detour utilizes Google Street View, Google Maps, and Google Satellite API, along with what Nissan calls “Hollywood-style digital effects” and a soundtrack from recording artist M.I.A. to “bring the excitement of driving the all-new Nissan Rogue to anyone,” a rep says.

The virtual test drive is optimized for desktops, tablets, and smartphones, and consumers start their “cinematic action-adventure” by entering starting and destination addresses or by using their current location from the browser settings.

For tablet and smartphone users, Nissan says a finger swipe launches the Rogue into mid-air based on the consumer’s current location. The site also offers pre-programmed routes around familiar destinations like Chicago, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and South Florida in Featured Detours.

“For every vehicle launch, you want to do something special. For the Rogue launch, we had a TV campaign and other ad elements that were all about this larger-than-life experience with a crazy drive on top of a train and sort of wonderful moments,” says Mike Awdish, Nissan senior manager for interactive marketing.

He calls The Detour an “immersive experience like the TV spot,” Commute, in which the car drives on the aforementioned train. While flying through the vehicle in The Detour, users are also able to experience the car’s interior and exterior, he adds.

What’s more, at the end of each drive, users can find local dealerships, schedule test drives, and download the soundtrack on

“It’s kind of a fun way to get [consumers] to be immersed and lead to the next steps,” Awdish says.

The Detour comes after the Rogue’s first redesign since its launch several years ago and follows its best January sales month ever, Awdish says.

The experience caters to consumers who are spending more time researching cars online before they go to dealerships.

“We thought, ‘What if we could give them an engaging experience in their town or their life — anywhere they currently drive?’ and the team had an aha moment — ‘Why don’t we use Google Maps and Google Street View to create our own crazy drive?’ and that led to everything,” Awdish says.

Nissan is encouraging consumers to share with site with the hashtag #TakeTheDetour.

It is also pushing the experience with homepage takeovers on MSN and Yahoo and on Nissan’s social channels. Nissan has 8.6 million likes and 277,000 followers.

The brand had a soft launch last week, but the homepage takeovers mark a “boom, here it is”-moment, Awdish says.

He also says the brand will keep the site live as long as consumers interact with it and will look at ways to grow it and make it bigger.

The Detour was created by digital agency Critical Mass, which calls it “the most cinematic and personalized virtual test drive ever created,” and also includes help from Academy Award-winning director of photography Guillermo Navarro, digital production and creative technology from hybrid production company Unit9, and digital effects from digital production company Digital Domain/Mothership.

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