Ad of the Day (6.13.12)


Something that I have learned during the three weeks that I’ve been doing this Ad of the Day feature is that car advertisements are far and above the most creative. When they are done right. Today’s pick is no different.

You can show people why a certain car is cooler than others and why they should buy your particular one – but sometimes you just have to get people behind the wheel of your car to make them see why they have to buy it. That’s the conclusion that Nissan came to when they wanted to do some advertising for their brand new SUV, the Patrol. They were so confident in their vehicle that they knew that if a person would just get behind the wheel of the car, they would want to buy it. But how can you get people to come in and test drive?

They teamed up with an advertising agency in Dubai and came up with a brilliant guerrilla marketing campaign they called “The Accidental Test Drive.” What they would do was simple – someone driving a decked out Patrol would park behind an SUV that was parked in a parking lot, effectively locking them in. They would leave their hazards on, as well as a note on their windshield that read, “Sorry, had to run. Feel free to get in the car and move it… sorry.”

Once the owner of the parked car would realize that they were blocked in, they would see the note and then get in the Patrol, where a recorded message would start playing. The message apologized for tricking them into taking the car for a mini-test drive, and then it took the opportunity to walk the driver through several of the unique features of the Patrol. At the end of the short recording, the voice on the tape would suggest that they sign up for an actual test drive using a form that was located in the trunk of the car.


This campaign was so successful that 78% of the people who took the accidental test drive signed up to take a real one. 78%. That’s unheard of! This campaign is brilliant for several reasons. First of all, it completely catches people off guard. They are not expecting to have to hear a sales pitch, so they are not ready to ignore it. Secondly, it forces people to actually drive the car. If they want to be able to leave right away, they have to get in and experience what it is like to be the owner of a Nissan Patrol.

Third, the sign up sheet for an actual test drive is located in the back of the car. They could have made it easy for the driver and placed it in the passenger’s seat, but by putting it in the back, it gives them more time with the product and lets them inspect other areas of the car. The final reason why this campaign is so great is because once they move the car, they could just move it a couple of feet so that their own car was free, but it was still blocking another car. So then the owner of that car would have to move it, blocking in another car, etc.

I wonder if something like this would work in the States. Its clever, its effective, and it is extremely inexpensive, but it is intrusive. Would people respond as positively in America?

What do you think? Would you be willing to test drive the car again if they blocked you in? Or would you just be annoyed? Sound off in the comments below!

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