The 2012 Nissan Juke-R broke all the rules of concept cars, branding and supercar manufacturing.
‘Broke the rules’ is an absolute marketing cliche in this day and age, with every brand and their mom trying to play the rebel and bad-boy, all in search of that most elusive of demographics: the male 13-34.
The reason this freakish creation with a Juke body atop a shortened Nissan GT-R platform was ostensibly just to showcase the GT-R’s amazing skills, perhaps living under the skin of normal and affordable Nissan models.
In the JUKE-R’s case, the resemblence was far more that a branding link. The JUKE-R was a fully-created race-car, built by the same crew who later made a few Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge models.
But as we know from the later Eau Rouge comparison, the JUKE-R hit some kind of magic marketing lightning the Infiniti missed.
A handful of JUKE-R’s were created for sale to customers at about $750,000 a pop, making the concept car leap from the Geneva 2012 show stand and onto racetracks and camera-phones in Dubai. A supercar mini-crossover with performance to shame Ferrari’s and Bugatti’s on YouTube? The JUKE-R was an instant phenom.
But the real achievment and legacy of the JUKE-R’s magic was actually far more practical than a race-car for the roads. (Well, some roads. Not American ones… no crash testing…)
By creating this huge power and screen-stealing performance in the new and untested Juke shape, it made this mini crossover cool and actually stylish. Which, as it was launching, was certainly up for debate. Freaky looks, tiny back seat, turbo power but vaguely effeminate scale? The Juke was not a dude-magnet at first sight.
As the JUKE-R earned column-inches and YouTube views by the thousands, suddenly spotting any Juke on the street made the brain ask: is that the JUKE-R!?
Nissan Juke NISMO
The effect is still strong today with the NISMO Juke and NISMO RS Jukes. Shared GT-R detailing and LEDs make the mental link, with car-guys around the world knowing instantly how much performance this shape could, with help from a platform swap, actually deliver.
For this, the JUKE-R will go down in history as one of the most-successful concept cars of all time. We estimate the media marketing value of the JUKE-R at about $25-million in spending.
By that, we mean it would have taken $25-million in marketing budget, TV ads etc, around the world to achieve what the JUKE-R brought for barely a tenth of that price. Cross-border, cross-language and cross-cultural. The JUKE-R hit the young male bulls-eye.
That is a true rule-breaker. And bank-maker.
2012 Nissan JUKE-R
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.