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NEW NISSAN AD JABS AT ACURA ALTIMA SPOT DRIVES HOME PRICE

By Published on .

Nissan Motor Corp. USA's outlandish comparisons of its Altima compact sedan to luxury vehicles are evolving into a slightly nasty attack on a fellow Japanese marque.

The newest TV spot ridicules American Honda Motor Co.'s Acura division and its relatively new slogan for the Legend luxury sedan: "Some things are worth the price."

The Acura campaign features shots of luxurious settings-a mansion, a woman receiving a massage under a gazebo-intercut with almost incidental beauty shots of the car. When the spots first appeared last fall, some observers questioned why Acura would want to focus on price instead of the car.

Price is the Altima ad's main point. The 30-second spot steals several key scenes from the Acura ad while the announcer names Acura and its slogan. As the Altima drives impishly around an estate, the announcer notes that it outperforms the Legend in several key road tests, such as acceleration, slalom and evasive maneuvering.

He also notes the difference in price: $39,000 for the Legend, $14,000 for the Altima.

"So while some things are worth the price, evidently the Altima is worth far more than the price," the announcer concludes.

The Altima spot, created by Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., began airing nationally last week and will continue in rotation through the summer.

Acura agency Ketchum Advertising, Los Angeles, knew the Altima spot was coming. Exec VP-Creative Director Steve Beaumont hadn't seen the ad last week, but he liked it. "That's great," he said. "We need to get the message out."

Acura's advertising has been concentrating on its less expensive Integra sedan, a more direct competitor to the Altima. Mr. Beaumont questioned whether the spot's reference to the Legend might be lost on the average viewer.

The message wasn't lost on Nissan dealers, however. During the division's annual sales meeting in San Francisco last month, dealers gave the ad a standing ovation.

"The automobile industry is a competitive industry," said a Nissan spokesman. "This is just another example of that."

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