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Girl in nissan versa note commercial
The old saying “you only get one chance to make a first impression” applies to dozens of situations, from meeting your future in-laws to interviewing for a job. So when Nissan’s ad agency decided to position the Sentra as “a powerful way to make a first impression,” they had lots of believable setups from which to choose. Last year’s funny and effective “Executive Carpool ” spot is a perfect example, featuring a young man getting an instant promotion largely because his Sentra impressed his boss so much.
All videos are embedded from the account of a Nissan dealer in Calgary—with staff that speak at least seven foreign languages!—because Nissan USA decided to make all of its commercials private for some reason.
Nissan recently launched two new Sentra spots based on the “first impressions” theme. Both use veteran sportscasters Bret Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit to provide play-by-play voiceover commentary, but while “Father ” is excellent, “Cold Shoulder” fails because it both tries too hard and muddles the message.
The commercial opens on a guy carrying ice cream and walking toward his car. In the background we hear what are supposed to be fans in a football stadium. Musburger starts the narration by observing that, “Steve is looking pretty good so far.” The idea of using sportscasters to comment on how a guy is doing on a date is hardly new, so it’s pretty easy to figure out that Steve is scoring points because he’s thoughtfully bringing one of the cups to his date.
But then a Sentra pulls up across the street, looking so good that “it’s definitely going to throw him off.” When Steve stops in his tracks to stare at the Nissan, his date turns to see what he’s looking at. And just as she does, an attractive woman gets out of the Sentra and walks away. Steve is still looking at the car, but his date thinks he’s looking at the woman, so she gets upset, raises her window, and locks her door. Steve comes around to his own door so he can get in and explain, but she reaches over and locks him out before he can. While the ice cream sits melting on the car’s roof (an allusion to their relationship?), we cut back to the parked Sentra as the announcer tells us to “make a powerful first impression” with the all-new Nissan Sentra.
It’s Nissan’s money and it can spend it any way it wants, but this seems to me to be an awfully convoluted way to get to the tag line. In fact, I had to watch the spot twice to make sure I understood the way in which the commercial is communicating its message. Although the woman in the Sentra makes an impression powerful enough to ruin Steve’s evening, the unintended meaning seems to be that, “when you see a Sentra, make sure you concentrate on the car and not the driver because that could get you into trouble with your significant other.” Why make the viewer work so hard when there are so many other storylines they could have used? Nissan itself already demonstrated this with “Executive Carpool” and “Father,” both of which are worthy of our highest rating, fifth gear. This one? Stuck in second.
Award-winning ad man-cum-auto journalist Don Klein knows a good (or bad) car commercial when he sees one; the Ad Section is his space to tell you what he thinks of the latest spots. The ad’s rating is depicted via the shift pattern at the bottom, but everyone has an opinion when it comes to advertising, so hit Backfires below and tell us what you think, too .