If the question “Can B-to-B ads for commercial vehicles be interesting?” was answered with hearty yes by Volvo’s award-winning and hugely viral hit “Epic Split,” then the follow-up question is, “Will other automakers follow suit?” The answer here also appears to be yes, as Nissan has just released an aging-star-fronted, demo-based campaign with a counterintuitive track to promote its line of commercial vehicles.
Nissan’s Tough Love campaign, created by TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, puts reality star/rocker Bret Michaels in the leading role of a product demo-cum-music video. The video opens on a shot of Nissan’s Arizona testing facility where car tests are underway. Soon, gentle piano arpeggios start to play before they’re met with a banging strum of the guitar. Before you know it, Michaels is giving come-hither eyes to a shiny black utility vehicle while belting out a rock version of ’80s classic “Endless Love.” Throughout the four minutes of dramatically gripping hands, panning close-ups, flaming guitars, and other rock-video tropes, some of Nissan’s 6,600 automobile tests are being demonstrated.
Online at NissanToughLove.com individual tests are shown in greater depth with shorter videos, such as the shaker machine, the heat chamber, the frame twister, and brake testing, in which Michaels relates his own life experiences to the conditions being tested. Because the heat chamber is just like being in the midst of pyrotechnics, says Michaels.
The point at which Michaels is shown drenched in the warm light of the sunset while balancing atop a Nissan NV Passenger is a little too close to the spot’s inspiration. Still, if product demos are the core of a commercial vehicle-maker’s business, then following and adapting the template created by Volvo is probably more entertaining than that which came before it.