FTC Says Nissan Frontier Hill Climb Ad Misrepresents Truck's Capabilities
Nissan, Ad Agency Settle with Commission, Agree to Conditions
We've all seen commercials that present unlikely or unbelievable scenarios visually representing a certain aspect of a product. Typically, these representations include a disclaimer indicating that the scenario is a dramatization. But sometimes, companies and their creative agencies run afoul of government watchdogs with deceptive or misleading depictions of products and their inferred capabilities. That's what happened to Nissan with its Frontier Hill Climb ad, filmed in a "reality" type format mimicking cell phone videos that have become a common genre on YouTube.
Starting out with a bystander yelling, "Gun it, bro!" a Frontier ascends a steep sand dune at full throttle, and comes to the rescue of a stalled-out dune buggy near the top of the hill. The feat is met with incredulous exclamations from observers like, "No way!" and "Oh, my God!" giving the impression that it was an impromptu recording of a random desert rescue. In fact, it was a professionally produced and recorded commercial which used a cable pulley system to pull both the Frontier and the buggy over the crest of the dune. Although disclaimers were briefly shown on screen during the commercial, they evidently weren't long and explicit enough for the feds.
In their settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Nissan and its advertising agency TBWA Worldwide have agreed to refrain from using "deceptive demonstrations" in future ads for their trucks. The issue is open for public comment on the FTC's web site through February 24 at at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/nissannorthamericaconsent and https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/tbwaconsent. You can watch the 30-second spot in question below.
Source: Federal Trade Commission