Brie Larson's Woke Nissan Ad Falls Flat

by Michael Satterfield - 03/09/2020

There is a popular phrase used to describe advertising that attempts to inject "progressive" social or political messages "get woke go broke" is often a mantra stated on online forums. The most famous example in recent memory was the controversial Gillette commercial where instead of selling men razors they lectured them on "toxic masculinity" the resulting backlash cost Gillette $8 billion dollars.

But while many are quick chalk up the saying to the realm of internet memery, and the memes can be pretty funny. The numbers don't lie for Nissan's latest attempt to capitalize on International Woman's Day with an ad featuring Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson. The ad on YouTube received over 35,000 dislikes to just a few thousand likes and Nissan turned the comment feature off completely after getting blasted by users.

The ad starts with a white man telling a woman that she will not be getting a promotion (this quarter) while they stand at a taco truck. The implication is that the only reason she is not getting promoted is that she is a woman. Suddenly, Brie Larson drives up in the new Sentra and tells the young woman to "get in the car," and the two drive off with Larson pointing out features of the car while giving a speech about how the new Sentra doesn't feel like a compromise and she (the female employee) shouldn't have to compromise in life. It ends with Larson pulling back up to the taco truck and the now empowered woman storming towards her male boss with a determined look. We never find out if she got the raise...

In a behind-the-scenes companion video, Larson says “The fact that I was pitched this concept that on the surface just looking at the ad itself it is about sisterhood, pumping each other up, community, and allowing each other to have the opportunity to believe in ourselves. Because that really feels like the first step with all of this. You can’t be what you can’t see. So I think actually following someone’s journey in disbelief to belief is a powerful image.”

While Nissan turned off the comments on the main video the follow-up video, which is also getting ratioed with dislikes, still has its comments up. With users saying things like "Just like that I'm no longer considering a Nissan for my next car" and  "Well I’m NEVER buying a Nissan EVER again."

Check out more comment screenshots below:

While the commercial has been panned online, it is getting people talking online about Nissan for something other than tanking sales in China and the turmoil with their fugitive former CEO Carlos Ghosn. We may not know if this was a brilliant move to get people talking or just another misstep by the carmaker.