Nissan’s Bridge to Embarrassment

October 20, 2005
"Ignorance is no excuse" is the old adage about, say, being nailed for exceeding a speed limit you didn't know existed. But it's hard to figure how U. S. Nissan marketing executives and the advertising agency for the Titan pickup truck ever came up with the "Col. Bogey March" musical background for a recent TV commercial that has just been yanked as the ultimate in bad taste.

Sure, hardly anyone under the age of 70 has first-hand memories of World War II. However, the 1957 movie, about Japanese mistreatment of British prisoners of war, The Bridge Over the River Kwai is still frequently shown on TV. The movie opens with bedraggled but indomitable Brit POWs marching into a jungle prison camp, keeping cadence while they whistle the Col. Bogey March. More than the film itself, the melody came to symbolize resistance to Japanese inhumanity.

Nissan said they only received ten complaints about the music in the commercial, running since mid-September and featuring a boat-towing Titan leading a parade of (non-Nissan) pickup trucks around American streets. Still, it’s puzzling how Nissan could have been so thoughtless as to bring up memories of wartime Japanese atrocities.-- Mike Davis

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