Another kind of Green


Philip Beickler touched on green marketing and it’s somewhat negligible impact on consumer behavior but I wanted to really “dig deep” and look at what the green movement affected us. Particularly how it affect our our car adverts.

When the “green” movement really picked up steam with the release of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006, there was inevitably a backlash. After all, movements that wide and that rapid (and that culture-changing) are always nay-sayed by those who are rendered uncomfortable by the change; in the case of the “green” movement though, just about everyone on the planet was culpable in contributing to the destruction of the world, save some native aboriginal tribes in the Australian Outback and the Kalahari desert. And Ben Malki.

This backlash took many forms: disputing the veracity of “global warming” (now: “climate change” because “warming” is a one-way street); arguing against those who would portend that we could hit “Peak Oil” – effectively the point at which more than half of the world’s oil has been extracted; pointing out the tons of CO2 Gore released into the atmosphere with his “green” mansion in Tennessee and traversing the world in jumbo jets to propagate his message; and perhaps most intriguingly, by positing that a tree-hugging, hybrid Toyota Prius was actually more detrimental to the environment than a rampaging, two-and-a-half-steps-shy-of-a-German-Panzer Hummer.

This set up for a fascinating ideological divide, between the tree-hugger apologists and the leave-me-alone skeptics which resulted in what most such debates do – ad hominem personal attacks and further entrenchment in their respective positions.

Of course corporations took sides in this debate as well, often in an ironically internecine manner (e.g. GM’s production of both the Hummer and the Chevy Volt).

For every ad showing a sickeningly-over-the-top polar bear hugging the owner of a new all-electric Nissan Leaf…

…there was an ad blaring testosterone-drenched music while showcasing the rugged construction and cargo-carrying (read: gas-guzzling) capabilities of the Nissan Tundra:

Tugged emotional heartstrings vs. unadulterated machismo; each ad made the opposing side metaphorically hurl, and just as in the civilian debates, neither side (in this case, of the same company) was going to win this argument by being even more recalcitrant in their position.

Until, that is, Nissan upstaged itself with this brilliant new advertisement:

This ad changes the debate: the argument is now far less about the environment, and far more about how dumb and inefficient gas is as a power source. On a completely logical level, virtually every object you own in your house runs on electricity, from the most arcane incandescent lightbulb to the most Tron-inspired, technologically cutting-edge video game machine.

Why then, should ANYTHING you use on a regular basis still run on petrol – a stinky, expensive, dirty, and century-old power source that you have to go to a specialized service provider to get? Why shouldn’t you be able to power up your car when you power up your smartphone?

The underlying message here is that if you want new, cool, technologically innovative car that is as comfortable in your home as your 108” 1960p Plasma flat-screen 3D HDTV with new smell-scencts technology is, buy a Nissan Leaf.

(Also, just for fun, note at 0:45 seconds the quirky and subtle visual jab at the Leaf’s nearest competitor, the petroleum-fueled “electric-first” Chevy Volt hybrid being filled up at the gas station while the Leaf is electrically charging).

Will this brilliant and snarky ad galvanize the debate, or reignite it? Will it change the game, or go unnoticed? I sure as hell don’t know, but as all the marketers in the world do — consumers will vote with their dollar. And I’ll be making popcorn and watching from the front row.

-Savinay Chandrasekha

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