Nissan Turns Parody Ad Into Marketing Win

Luke Aker, an Orlando resident with seven years experience in the film industry, has recently been studying advertising and marketing as well. Based on his funny pitch to sell his old car, the student ad creative appears to have become a master.

When Aker recently decided it was time to sell his well worn in 1996 Nissan Maxima, he decided to have a little fun with it. Along with posting a print ad, Aker made a funny video and Craigslist post with witty copy to get people’s attention — but he never imagined that some of the people would be the folks at Nissan.

Aker’s car ad parody video features his beat-up Nissan and a British voice-over, along with his Craigslist copy touting his “pavement-yacht” and its many luxurious features, like a a broken odometer. “This Maxima no longer needs to let the odometer tell it how far it has gone — it has chosen a path of greatness and valor and refuses to let silly numbers determine its life!”

“Rob Robinson, one of the guys on my social team here at Nissan North America found this yesterday, just browsing through the social space — we are always searching different keywords — and he came across this video,” explained Erich Marx, director of interactive and social media marketing at Nissan North America. “He came to me and asked me if we should do something with it, and I agreed that we should, so we just ran with it.”

Nissan reached out to Aker on Twitter with an offer he couldn’t refuse: the Japanese automaker wanted to buy the car from him for his original asking price of $1,400 (he had lowered the price to $900), and offered to donate an additional $1,000 to Aker’s charity of choice. Aker accepted and Nissan sent the money the next day.

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“I was really surprised, but the way Nissan dealt with the whole thing was awesome,” said Aker, who had Nissan send its donation to The Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit veterans services organization.

The 1996 Maxima is currently being held at a dealership in Orlando until Nissan decides what to do with it. As Marx explained, they are going to have a closer look at the car and its condition before they figure out what’s next for it.

Brands face tons of pressure these days to be human and to react in “real time” using social and it’s no easy task — which is why there is always an abundance of examples of brand being cheesy or screwing up when it comes to social and real-time marketing. But it’s things like what Nissan has done here, and what Citi Bike and J.Crew did last week by giving a Citi bike rider a fresh pair of pants after falling off his bike, that are great examples of how brands can win at social and real-time marketing. These kinds of stunts aren’t too heavy-handed and show a brand is paying attention on social and is willing to do something nice for people.

“We just wanted to have fun with it and being flexible enough internally to see that there’s an opportunity there and to give back,” said Marx.

Nice one, Nissan. You too, Aker — looks like you might have a bright ad career ahead of you.

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