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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Comments (16)
  1. I'd actually prefer the 'What if' since it's far too cool and catchy, and the 'Gas powered everything' since it was so clever, not to mention cheeky.
    This ad's grand, and has a sex reference which always sell cars, which the other Leaf ads didn't have. Still, what annoyed me were the 'fun' about the rear camera, and especially the little noise when a fun fact came along. It sounds immature in my opinion.

  2. I liked the Polar bear ad, but it could have been the start of a whole series,
    have the bear jump in and drive the Leaf, maybe be dropping off the cubs, and going shopping.

    kind of like those Hip Hop Hamster that KIA used.

  3. Most auto ads these days are selling you an image, and tell you little to nothing useful about the car. I think this ad strikes a good balance between image and "facts" that might make a new car buyer at least consider the Leaf.

  4. If they really wanted to sell EV's they wouldn't have made an overpriced, overweight, overteched EV.

    And they would have done a far better job introducing it. But they don't really want to sell EV' s as shown by their marketing efforts.

    If they really wanted to sell EV's they would have done the Toyota X1 or the GM Ultralite showcars in medium tech composites, not CF.

    Needing 1/2 the battery pack, EV drive with the start up cost saving plus weight savings by using composites would do the same trip/mission at 50% of the total cost of a steel, overweight one.

  5. The ad makes me wonder how the back seat is for two. Haven't tried that in my Leaf. Yet.

  6. Suppose that depends on the size of the two people and what they are doing.

  7. Where there's a will, there is a way!


  8. 70 miles is just not enough for me as my wife and I share our only car. We live in a rural location that does have a good Safeway, but other shopping is 40 miles away. In addition we do like to head to the Oregon coast from time to time so only 70 miles is just not good enough. What we do have now, for about 11 days, is a 2013 C-MAX Energi that we love! Our first trip of greater than 20 miles was last Saturday night and we went about 45 miles and went 26.8 miles on electric. When the gas engine automatically started I was getting about 39-40 mpg right away. This was at speeds of 55-60 mph. Since most cars do get their best MPG until around 2500-3000 miles I would bet that I can get at least 44 mpg then.

  9. Jeez why the negative 2 rating? Youi guys don't like American cars?

  10. dont worry about it Barry. people just jealous because you can get away with living in the OR country side with only one car

  11. Maybe Nissan and Mitsubishi and Tesla etc. can fund a round of ad buys for the Plugin America Drive Electric PSA's?


    These are quite funny, I think, and they crack through the illusion of normalcy surrounding internal combustion cars.


  12. Theses batteries cars are a flop. Only in electric car blog that they say it's good but on newspapers and tv most of the journalist and electric car owners say that this is a costly mistake. this week a prius owner was on tv and he downrated his car and said that it do 15 mpg less then advertise and was more and more driving bad because the battery is worn out and the car behavior is worst then ever with a choppy ride, bad breaking uneven acceleration, etc, etc.

  13. Thanks for telling us your story, gor r :-) Move along, nothing to see here.

  14. I like the ad, it moves quickly along in positive fashion - but fails when the sleaze enters the picture in the form of Nissan trumpeting a $21000 selling price in large white font, with disclaimer invisibly added underneath in small, dark font.

    Typical Nissan MO.... make big fantasy claims that sound great - such as 100 mile range - but in the real world don't happen.

  15. @Kent: We tend to agree with you on this one. The prevalent and shameful practice of quoting "net prices" that subtract a $7,500 tax credit that not every buyer qualifies for and that takes up to 15 months to recognize is appalling.

    But it's hardly Nissan alone who is at fault:

  16. With the new Ad and all the new inventory (showing up in my local Nissan Dealer), Leaf should have an awesome sales number for the month of March. We shall see if it works.

    BTW, this is the first time I see this many Leaf in the local dealer (The one that delivered first Leaf in the SF Bay Area). They usually have 2-3 Leaf on the lot (easily seen from the hwy). But 2 days ago, about 10 of them are sitting there. Looks like new arrivals. So far, all 10 of them are still there...

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