Nissan/Lexus: Model behaviour

There was a time when automotive advertising was simply a matter of appealing to the base desires of potential male consumers by draping a women across the bonnet.  However, advertising soon became more sophisticated, as brands sought to build emotive connections in far more subtle ways.

However, amongst all the arty collaborations (such as the Volvo Art Session), cinematic online productions (Aston Martin’s take on The Bourne Supremacy) and music integrations (Ford’s Gimme the Gig), two campaigns surface today that put the girls back in the picture in a big way.

The first comes from Lexus, which sees the luxury auto brand teaming up with Dutch supermodel Rianne ten Haken on a four page Sports Illustrated print ad spread and accompanying ‘making of’ video.  As an ad campaign it offers exactly what you’d expect, teaming up the bright yellow vehicle with a girl in a matching yellow bikini. Supercar meets Supermodel.  It’s not subtle either, with Haken driving the sales message home when she says “the car just sounds like testosterone…like, full on, like, strong power”.

A more tough in cheek version of this pairing up concept comes courtesy of Nissan and its ongoing promotional efforts for the youth orientated Nissan Juke.

The ‘Model vs Model’ campaign, another partnership with Sports Illustrated Magazine, takes the form of a series of unconventional test drives, as the 2011 Juke and a model  go head to head to compare acceleration, agility, aerodynamics and curb appeal.

A secondary element of the promotion sees the brand sponsoring the ‘Model Search Swimsuit 2011 presented by Nissan’, asking the public to engage in a social media vote for which of eight possible models will appear in the 2012 swimsuit edition of the magazine.

Lexus doesn’t pull any punches with its promotion, opting for the trackside appeal of the ultimate pit girl, aiming squarely at an audience steeped in race car culture.  Nissan, however, manages to balance its clearly male centred premise with light-hearted humour - akin to other recent efforts for the Juke - while retaining all the core benefits of aligning with an established America institution such as Sports Illustrated.

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