Ferrari Vs. Nissan: Prancing Horse vs. Dancing Bear

December 19, 2010
My how times have changed. I was reading an article on the BBC’s website about marketing electric cars and how they should be named, in order to have meaning and resonance for the potential buyer. It’s a tricky thing because names can mean different things to different people as well as in different languages. So how do you market the newest of the new, how do you make a “gotta have,” what does it take?

Well, in my world, it takes more than a great name, it takes a great automotive ad. And the two in this post are at opposite ends of the spectrum: One for Ferrari and one for the Nissan Leaf. And the opposing philosophies they represent couldn’t be more, uh, what’s a good word -- opposite.

Prancing Horse
The brand, the legend Ferrari, the prancing horse has always been about race cars and road cars that could pass for race cars, and how they swilled dinosaur juice so their owners could feel like Fangio or Schumacher. And this ad to me is the crowning cinematic achievement. Sure, it’s actually for gasoline made produced by the world crushing oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Oil, but let's be honest, it's Ferrari that makes the ad so special.

What are the hallmarks of this ad? Speed, glamor, machismo, and I’d say the most distinct thing about this ad is the sound. No voice-over til the very end, lots and lots of engine revving, musical pistons and combustion all over the world for all to hear and appreciate. But it’s all about the one guy in the car, racing, just to be fast, just to show off, just to be heard. Mechanical defiance

Dancing Bear

This ad shows how the world has changed in the past few years.Since the Shell ad, several years have passed and attitudes have changed. Being green is in, being sensitive and caring about the world around you. Make less of a dent no matter what you do. Recycle, reuse, reduce and drive less. Or drive a Nissan Leaf.

And what is remarkable about the Leaf, apart from being the first real electric car you can live with? It lacks sound, it is about harmony and being good to the world. The ad says as much. A quiet world, a quiet polar bear, a bear hug for mother nature. There is no excitement, just electrons and harmony.

So where does that leave us? It’s telling us that if you want to boast, be loud, proud and consume. Crush all comers and buy a Ferrari. If you are reviled by that attitude, take your wires and batteries and iPhone and connect to the world in a quiet fashion with a Nissan Leaf.

My, how the world has changed.

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