Nissan's U.S. advertising agency, TBWA Worldwide, reached an agreement last week with the Federal Trade Commission regarding a 30-second commercial it produced about the 2012 Nissan Frontier; the spot ran on several television stations across the country. The ad showed a Frontier running up a steep sand dune to rescue a dune buggy stuck near the top; the pickup truck pushed the buggy over the peak to safety after stopping on the steepest part of the dune.
According to the FTC complaint, as described in the Los Angeles Times, the commercial made it appear as if the midsize pickup was much more capable than it actually is, misrepresenting what the little 4x4 can do. The commercial is one of many auto ads (we can think of a particular Toyota Tacoma ad) that are clearly meant to look as if they've been recorded by a casual onlooker, accidentally capturing a spectacular and unbelievable event. According to the FTC, the actual filming of the commercial required several takes, multiple cuts, special cable rigging and other special effects to produce the final commercial. There's no word as to why the FTC chose the Nissan advertisement from the others.
Under the settlement Nissan and TBWA won't face any immediate punishment, but could face civil penalties of up to $16,000 a day if either produces similarly deceptive advertisements in the next 20 years. Also, both companies need to maintain records for any kind of advertising for all Nissan trucks for the next five years, which will be monitored by the FTC. Nissan does not plan to end its relationship with TBWA.
The article goes onto say the last time the FTC and an automaker came to an agreement like this was in 1992 when Volvo produced a commercial that implied that a monster truck could not crush one of its station wagons.
2011 Nissan Ad
2009 Toyota Ad