An alert bit of monitoring by Nissan North America's social media team has brought happier holidays to an Orlando-based freelance videographer and to the Wounded Warriors Project.
The automaker ended up agreeing to buy a 1996 Nissan Maxima GLE from Luke Aker after noticing his well-made 70-second video ad for the car on YouTube and reading his creative classified on Craigslist. In fact, Erich Marx, Nissan's director of interactive marketing and social media, agreed not only to give him his original $1,400 asking price for the 17-year-old survivor but also to kick in a $1,000 holiday season donation to the Wounded Warriors Project, Aker's favorite charity.
"We thought it was just brilliant, fantastic, and we saw the opportunity to have some fun with it," Marx told brandchannel about his team's reaction when they saw Aker's work. "In the social space, it's about being engaging and showing that you have a sense of humor."
A sense of humor is certainly what they saw from Aker online. The Craiglist pitch bragged that the hoary car still “has a ride as smooth as Pegasus’s backside, has “chosen a path of greatness and valor” and sports “properly weathered leather” seats. Aker’s ad even managed to make a virtue out of steering-fluid leakage that occurs after the car “has been exhausted from the majestic work that it has done.”
For the video milieu, Aker turned up the quality of his appeal several notches with a witty script and some great camera work, visually caressing the car and all its age marks, ranging from the strapped-down hood to a nicked-up bumper. He also found a local narrator in Florida with a compelling British accent.
“We saw Mr. Aker’s video ad yesterday and coudn’t pass it up, once we finally stopped laughing,” Marx said in a statement. He told brandchannel: "Some brands would say to us, 'How can you show your product that way?' But we have a sense of humor, and we know it's all tongue-in-cheek. Plus, that Nissan did last 17 years."
Marx also said that his team of Cratchits, not Scrooges, enjoyed experiencing Aker's seemingly genuine delight—tweeting enthusiastically on the Twitter handle of his outfit, @ikonikfilms—at getting a call from Nissan that he certainly didn't expect.
If Nissan's action explodes virally beyond the video's 400,000 views as of early Wednesday, and the unpaid media attention the episode is generating, "Great," Marx said. "If not, it's a nice thing to do around the holidays, and we bought the car from him and it benefited Wounded Warriors. It's all gravy."
And the durable old Altima itself? “We’re currently exploring several possibilities,” Nissan said, “for what the future holds for this majestic vehicle.” For now, it’ll be housed at a local Nissan dealership.