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Nissan Mans Up For Football

Posted by Abe Sauer on October 11, 2010 11:00 AM

College and pro football are that increasingly rare bird in the modern TV landscape: "appointment television." This means very little DVRing for later, and makes the gridiron-loyal audience one of the last remaining viewer demos that reliably sees most ads aimed at it.

Those who watch enough football come to despise many of the commercials they see over—and over, and over, and over again and, please just make it stop. Even a commercial that seems interesting the first time, can be unbearable by the 100th viewing, when tiny details become annoying and the "sports fan" sell becomes unbearable. (We're looking at you Buffalo Wild Wings "Sprinkler Maestro.")

For this reason, two new Nissan ads deserve praise.

When it debuted during the first the NFL game of the season a month ago, the Nissan Leaf ad featuring the polar bear attracted attention and accolades. (Including ours.) But the ad has diminishing returns; with the payoff already known up front, the twee whimsy of the conclusion is less effective. Not so with the brand's latest Maxima and Juke ads.

The key to both of Nissan's ads is that while they are clearly aimed at men, the messaging steers clear of gross football ad stereotypes, an intriduces Nissan to a new demographic as the intelligent man's choice.

The first spot, for the new Juke model (above), tells a fast-paced, car-highlighting story with plenty of absurdist humor that gets funnier with additional viewing. The creative addition of having the main character break the fourth wall and say to the camera, "Professional driver. Closed course" is tone-perfect and respects the audience's intelligence. Better yet, the last 1/2 second flirty look from the guy's hot colleague is all the subtle sex-sells message the ad needs.

The second ad drops the slapstick in favor of sincerity (below).

The Maxima ad effectively demonstrates the Maxima's sports car pedigree hile perfectly typing it to human emotion. While most may not want to admit it, this is exactly how many men think when faced with life-changing news. (We're happy, but…) This ad says unerringly defines those manly feelings as natural without appealing to "castration" messaging too often used in football season advertising. (We're looking at you, Miller Lite.)

Both Nissan spots are triumphs, in part because they have been sublimely cast, with the star of each doing a worthy job investing us in his respective conundrum. But the brand message of each also provides men that rare football season accomplishment: ads that don't pander to us as men, or football fans.

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