2013 Nissan Leaf TV Ad: Selling Electric-Car Fun, Finally!

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2013 Nissan Leaf 'Facts' television ad, frame capture

2013 Nissan Leaf 'Facts' television ad, frame capture

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The 2013 Nissan Leaf electric car has some lofty sales goals associated with it--certainly higher than the 9,750 deliveries that Nissan averaged each year in 2011 and 2012.

So it's encouraging to see a new television ad for the 2013 Leaf that actually highlights the fun and special features of driving electric cars.

The new ad is a quick-cut 30-second spot that packs a lot into its voiceovers, with visuals of an attractive young couple on a dinner date in their new Leaf. You can watch it below.

Experienced electric-car advocates, among them Chelsea Sexton, have pointedly criticized much of the marketing of cars like the Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt over the two years since they were introduced.

As Hollywood producer Dean Devlin pointedly said last year, marketing electric cars as "medicine"--something that's good for you even if you don't much like it--is bound to fail.

After viewing the new ad, advocate Chelsea Sexton commented, "It reminds me a bit of a VH1 pop-up video, but it's a definite step in the right direction."

"It even mentions 'fun' in the first line!"

While the famous Nissan Leaf "Polar Bear" ad was memorable, it hardly spelled "fun" or "sexy" or "enjoyable". 

In the ad below, there's only a single mention of the car's environmental benefits, toward the end of the spot and buried in the phrase, "Good for the world, built in America."

The Leaf is hardly the only electric car whose makers grapple with marketing messages, of course.

Early ads for the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car were widely criticized (and we'll only touch on the abhorrent Volt Dance fiasco).

It got so bad that Volt owners took matters into their own hands, creating dozens of original ads and posting them to YouTube--the best of them showing how a Volt helps you escape the zombie apocalypse.

2011 Nissan Leaf BearHug

2011 Nissan Leaf BearHug

Enlarge Photo

Different people buy electric cars for different reasons, but marketing cars as fun to drive and enjoyable is much more likely to attract a potential customer's attention.

Which will make him or her more positively disposed to hearing why the car also satisfies those other motivations.

There's even a hint of sauciness in the new Nissan Leaf ad.

The pretty young woman, cuddling up to her man while looking at the stars on a cool evening after their dinner, touches the "Turn climate control on" button on the car's smartphone app--and smiles seductively at him.

We do find one aspect of the ad perplexing, though.

Sexton noted that the new ad mentions that the 2013 Leaf is "fun" right up front--which it does, in the first 5 seconds of the 30-second spot.

But that's accompanied by a visual of...parallel parking.

Really? Parallel parking defines what's fun about the Leaf electric car?

Well, it's a start.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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