What links a 1985 novel about a drug-addicted rich boy with the 2011 Nissan Leaf? 

Nothing, or something? It turns out to be both. 

You see, the 1985 novel Less Than Zero, later dramatized in 1987 as a film featuring a fresh-faced 22 year-old Robert Downey Jr., has a remarkably similar title to Nissan’s latest ad-campaign for its all-electric family hatchback. The latter also features the vocal talent of Downey Jr. 

Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

Called The Value of Zero the advert shows a series of images of both naturally occurring and manmade shapes that look like the mathematical value 0 and asks in the style of  typical electric car advert hyperbole what the true value of zero is. 

“What is the value of Zero? Is it nothing? Imagine zero dependency on foreign oil. Zero pollutants in our environment. Zero depletion of the ozone. Suddenly zero starts adding up. Which is why we at Nissan built a car inspired by zero. Because Zero is worth more than nothing: zero is worth everything...”

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

In keeping with some of Nissan’s other Leaf adverts, there is no mention of the Leaf until the final ten seconds of the advert.  Some would argue it builds excitement and expectation. We think it’s an attempt to highlight Nissan’s own belief that the Leaf isn’t just another car. 

The advert itself isn’t anything to get excited about. We might even say it had no effect on us. 

But the weird connection to a 1987 film about a college freshman addicted to hard drugs? 

That made us smile. We bet Nissan didn’t intend to link its Goody Two Shoes Leaf with that particular narrative. 

Don’t worry Nissan. No one will notice.