Isaiah Mustafa has ruined advertising. He may not have written his own monologues for those popular Old Spice ads, but Mustafa's deadpan delivery and sublime quirkiness have inspired a thousand would-be imitators. Even talented actors like Ryan Reynolds can't measure up, as we see in a new clip for the 2012 Nissan Leaf.
In the commercial, Reynolds is paired with another Ryan -- marathoner Ryan Hall -- who's allegedly giving Reynolds some tips on running a marathon. The gag is that while Hall jogs around, working up a sweat, Reynolds sits comfortably behind the wheel of a Nissan Leaf. In comedy terms, Hall plays the straight man, the Moe to Reynolds' Curly.
Unfortunately, the ad doesn't work for us. And because we were champion debaters in high school -- cross-x and Lincoln-Douglas, thank you -- here are three reasons why:
1. It's not funny: Reynolds cut his teeth on comedy, and he can be a funny guy, but he's better off letting someone else play the nut job. In Reynolds' defense, the script for the Nissan ad isn't stellar, but we do have to wonder what would've happened if, say, Alec Baldwin had been cast in his place.
2. It doesn't tell us anything new: We don't know where this ad is meant to run, and even though it's nearly 60 seconds on the nose, it could simply be a branding piece for web audiences. But whether it remains tethered to YouTube or drifts onto television, we're perplexed as to why Nissan didn't take a different angle and tell us something new about the Leaf. After all, the idea of an athlete happily chugging along behind a zero-emission Leaf was done a year-and-a-half ago with Lance Armstrong.
3. The Leaf gets lost: This is our biggest beef with the clip. We're fans of the Leaf, and from where we sit, Nissan should take every opportunity to engage other potential customers. In this ad, we have a hard time finding the car, much less finding anything to get excited about.
But maybe we're being too harsh on the former Mr. Johansson. Maybe Nissan intended this to be a short, simple commercial about health and fitness as part of its Innovation for Endurance Facebook promo. Still, we wouldn't complain if Nissan brought back the polar bear. Have a look and judge for yourself: