Nissan’s latest advertisement on YouTube for their new electric SUV pays tribute to the popular Lofi Girl channel on the site
In a bold move, Nissan decided to promote its new electric Ariya SUV through a four-hour ad on YouTube. Despite the potential for backlash, the automaker’s gamble paid off, as the ad went viral and garnered over 17 million views, along with numerous positive comments.
One comment reads “This is the way commercials ought to be”, while another expresses their admiration, “I didn’t even realize this was an ad! I adore it so much.”
Nissan’s successful approach was to create an ad tailored for the popular YouTube channel, Lofi Girl. This channel features a 24/7 livestream of calming instrumental music, accompanied by an animated video of a girl taking notes while a cat snoozes in the background. Nissan’s ad adopts a similar soundtrack and aesthetic, featuring an animation of a woman driving through a picturesque countryside and occasionally passing by discreetly placed billboards for the Nissan Ariya.
According to Simón Wilches-Castro, the creative director at Titmouse, the visuals for the ad were created by the Los Angeles-based animation studio, which is well-known for producing TV shows like The Venture Bros. and Big Mouth. Nissan approached Titmouse with the objective of replicating the Lofi Girl vibe while also incorporating its Japanese heritage. This requirement brought back memories of Wilches-Castro’s own trips to Japan.
The ad’s dynamic backgrounds were influenced by Wilches-Castro’s extensive video footage of Japan, featuring changing landscapes such as snowy trees, distant mountains, and a sunset-drenched coastline. The style of the visuals was influenced by traditional Japanese woodblock printing, infused with an anime flavor, and interspersed with the occasional appearance of towering monsters in the horizon, much to the amusement of viewers in the comment section.
Wilches-Castro explains that he aimed to convey a sense of harmony between the driver and the massive creatures in the background. Despite their enormous size, the creatures are seamlessly integrated into the landscape, creating a feeling of peaceful coexistence. According to Wilches-Castro, this was intended to showcase the idea of balance and sustainability that is central to Nissan’s vision for the Ariya SUV.
Other companies have previously tried using extremely long ads as a marketing strategy. For instance, Swiss Chalet, a Canadian casual-dining chain, aired a 13-week continuous broadcast of rotisserie chickens being roasted, and in 2014, the Association Right to Die with Dignity released a 25-hour public service announcement. However, these were mainly aimed at generating buzz, while Nissan had a more practical motive for producing a four-hour ad: the company intended to make an ad that would roughly match the duration of its new electric SUV’s range on a single charge.
“People come across this ad and then forget their original intent because they get so engrossed in the content,” says Wilches-Castro.
The development and execution of the ad involved a collaboration between Nissan and Google, with the additional involvement of New York-based creative studio The Mayda Creative Co. According to Lydia Corin, Mayda’s director of creative partnerships, the ad’s success can be attributed to its strong alignment with YouTube’s Lofi Girl channel. From the outset, the team knew their target audience and set out to create something that would have a lasting impact on culture without being disruptive.
Just over two months since its release, the ad has become Nissan USA’s second-most-viewed video on YouTube. Based on the number of viewers who added it to their playlists, it could soon become the top video on the channel.
Wilches-Castro confesses that he did not anticipate the ad to become so successful. He says:
“The fact that this anime girl is now the big star of their [YouTube] channel is a shock to me.”
He further adds that his goal was not to break records but to create something soothing, given the challenging times we have experienced in the past couple of years.