At about 1:32 on the video above, Steve Colbert gestures his reaction to the Nissan campaign to create an exclusive wave between Leaf owners. (It is blocked out but the crowd goes wild and the suggestion is clear.) Adding insult to injury, he goes on to say that he has “no doubt that [the wave] will catch on because the Grassroots-organic-slow-food-locavore types who buy electric cars love manufactured traditions created by the marketing wings of multi-national corporations.” Whew! More likely it will be added to the list of media campaigns that failed.
I like electric cars and I think that the Nissan Leaf is probably a great product. Later this week, I will look at EV economics using the LEAF as an example. Am I offended? No, I actually thought it was rather funny. Wait! Wait! Wasn’t that an insult? Sure. “My team right or wrong” is not the only possible response and it’s probably somewhat deserved. As he said at the end of the piece, the best “Wave” is probably 10 and 2 (10 fingers and 2 hands on the wheel, at the 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock positions).
It is a car, after all, not a toy. While it is great to feel warm and cozy about your vehicle it is not the only consideration. When someone could suggest in a lawsuit that the reason for an accident was that they were “giving the Nissan Wave,” then we are having to look at increased corporate liability exposure. I begin to wonder if the Nissan Media department is actually working for GM, as they just don’t seem to “get” the American-buying public. Nissan needs to take a very long look at its media staffing. Perhaps this will help to wake them up.
The other silent aspect of the piece is a comment not on Nissan but media in general. “Nissan” became “all electric car companies” in the quote and, finally, all media departments. Colbert is a humorist. He plays the conservative corporate voice. The piece starts with American flags and the Eagle background. These are crafted images. It is over the top. The entire format makes fun of manufactured traditions. GM has done the same thing with its manufactured media trends and even tried to trademark the term “range anxiety.” The only difference is that GM is more subtle.