Without naming names - Macleans.ca

Without naming names

Hit the brakes: Nissan takes aim at rival Toyota, by showing off some years-old technology


It’s bad sport to kick someone when he’s down, but a new Nissan ad manages to do just that to Toyota—without ever mentioning its rival’s name. “The U.S. government may soon require brake override technology on all new cars and trucks,” says Robert Downey Jr., the narrator, as a speeding car literally stops on a dime. “At Nissan, we think this is a good idea. So we did it—six years ago.”

Earlier this year, Toyota was plagued by reports of cars rushing out of control, from which it’s now recovering. (After much criticism, the company announced plans to install a brake override system on new vehicles.) Canadians typically don’t like negative advertising, but this ad “makes perfect sense,” says Kenneth Wong, a marketing professor at Queen’s University. “Nissan’s already got the capability, and had it for a long time. They’re capitalizing on the fact that, all of a sudden, people are paying attention.”