Positioning Super Bowl ads as fake movies has been a popular tactic of late—see BMW’s Arnold Schwarzenegger “Zeus” tease. Nissan is kicking the ad-as-film approach into a higher gear with today’s release of its spot.
The spot, from TBWA/Chiat/Day New York, shows Eugene Levy transforming into an action film star after hopping behind the wheel of a Nissan Z sports car at the urging of actress Brie Larson. Levy’s “Schitt’s Creek” co-star and frequent collaborator Catherine O’Hara makes an appearance driving a Nissan Ariya electric vehicle. And from there, the spot evolves into an action-packed car chase portrayed as a movie called “Thrill Driver.”
Levy takes on more of a bad-ass look (his hair grows to his shoulders and he dons a leather jacket) and is joined by actors Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista as they flee bad guys in scenes that include helicopters and fiery flames. The spot ends with the actors emerging from what is portrayed as the red-carpet premiere of the “movie.”
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Nissan is not stopping with the ad: It will distribute “limited-edition movie posters” throughout the country and tease the ad with fake movie trailers on social and digital media. The brand even made a collectible action figure based on Levy’s character. Nissan also lined up influencer support, including from real-life movie reviewers who will post content on YouTube that poses as real reviews of the fake movie.
The 60-second ad, which will run in the fourth quarter, marks the first time Nissan has been in the Super Bowl since 2015.
“It was a big decision for us to get back into this game; the timing was perfect to put the ‘new’ Nissan on a bigger stage,” Allyson Witherspoon,VP and chief marketing officer for Nissan U.S. said in a statement. “This ad takes Nissan’s Thrill campaign to the next level. We have an incredible cast, it is beautifully produced, and it is action-packed. We wanted to show how one ride in a Nissan can truly change everything. This is a launching point for the Nissan Ariya and Z, and we will make a big splash on this global stage.”