Sometimes a well-told story is all you need.
At Christmas, we all enjoy seeing big brands deploy the budget of a small nation in order to tell a story about family, acceptance or why it’s rude to ignore to grandparents’ phone calls. These ads certainly make headlines, but it’s not usually possible for brands to produce these ambitious narrative ads year-round.
After all, carefully crafting a moving, satisfying short film tends to be a more involved, expensive process than simply shooting some product promo.
If John Lewis’ festive spots are the tentpole blockbusters of online advertising, Nissan Ireland is attempting something rather different: an indie film. With their latest spot ‘No More Mr. Nice Car’, the brand tells a bittersweet story about the relationship between a brother and sister, shot in the style of something which could happily premiere at the next Sundance Festival.
With over 100,000 views since release, the ad even has its own cult audience.
Set in suburban Ireland, ‘No More Mr Nice Car’ depicts the close bond between a brother and sister, typical ‘90s kids who hash out their sibling squabbles over a game of Street Fighter. However, things take a turn for the worse when the brother starts getting bullied by a set of local boys, their leader wearing a conspicuous Union Jack tracksuit.
Though his sister advises him to tell someone, the boy is too afraid and chooses instead to suffer in silence. Meanwhile, she watches this brutality from the window, feeling powerless.
Despite their subject matter, these scenes are beautifully shot and this is where Nissan establishes their indie credentials. Set to a powerful song by Anna B. Savage, the spot has a lovely sense of melancholy. That is, until we jump several years into the future and the tone suddenly changes.
With the arrival of pounding drums on the backing track, we see brother is still being persecuted by that same bully, who wears the exact same Union Jack tracksuit, only larger.
But we also see how the now-teenage sister has been spending the intervening years: learning how to fight. When she spies the bully going after her brother once again, she finally jumps into action, donning her karate outfit.
Though the ad cuts away from the actual confrontation, it’s pretty clear she’s wiped the floor with her brother’s aggressor.
This a tidy, moving little short that uses its music and cinematography to complement the storytelling. Any complaints about the ad come from the spot’s final few seconds, in which the two children magically transform into Nissan Micras – certainly one of the stranger branding moments we’ve seen.
Overall though, ‘No More Nice Car’ is a fine example of the kind of storytelling brands can accomplish without a Christmas-sized budget.