05.27.2011 - by Zan Dubin-Scott
Imitation is So Flattering-Nissan’s New Ad

Shooting a Plug In America PSA

Yes, we love Nissan’s brilliant new Leaf ad! Especially because it looks SO much like our very own “Cell Phone” Public Service Announcement (PSA), distributed worldwide in November 2010.

Are we sayin’ that one of the world’s largest automakers, capable of hiring one of the world’s largest advertising conglomerates, copied our PSA?

Nah. We’re just sayin’ maybe they got a few creative tips from Plug In America. Possibly? Probably?

We haven’t talked to Nissan about it yet.

But why wouldn’t they? What other group of folk as we have spent as much time driving electrics and extolling their virtues, and talking about them, and studying them (if virtually never repairing them, cuz you virtually don’t need to)? Who knows more than we do?

And whose talented volunteers spent hours producing seven, count ’em, seven PSAs?

So we’re happy if it’s true, not just because imitation is the greatest form of you-know-the-rest.

But because Nissan has a much bigger marketing budget than Plug In America does. We say, go viral, “Gas Powered Everything.”

And we say, go watch Nissan’s cool new ad. Then tell your friends to watch our PSAs. Cuz we’re all about letting the world know about cars that can drive on sunshine. And do.

Oh, and about that Volt thing in the ad? Jeff U’Ren, the six-time Emmy Award-winning editor who helped write and edited our PSAs, drives a Volt.

13 comments on “Imitation is So Flattering-Nissan’s New Ad”
  1. Anonymous says:

    First PIA was first. We will always be first. I am very leery of a huge automobile company not only stealing the technology but now even stealing PIA’s PSA ads. I think they are corrupt. It reminds me of the Rockefeller times a hundred years ago of big corporations taking away the peoples right to make their own fuel for their vehicles. PIA should not be for every electric car or development, rather critically evaluate what is being done with the eco boost to our economy JMO

  2. Anonymous says:

    You jerks. Stop your smear campaign. You don’t need it.

    Unlike Apple (and Nissan, in many cases), you guys actually do have facts and hard data on your side– use it. Share it. Make it available.

    Let America know that, even if their electricity were generated by the same fossil fuels as in their vehicles, they’d be driving at about 54% efficiency, as compared to about 15% efficiency. That’s the important information– that’s what the world needs to know.

    The world doesn’t need to know that converting super-engineered power plants into small two stroke engines is a bad move. It already knows that.

    I’m sick of sitting through your ads, bullying a dying fuel source. Gasoline’s been there for America for over a hundred years– stop vilifying it when the real culprit is just a matter of the economy of scale.

    I don’t care who copied your ad, it just means it’s more painful advertisement for me to sit through, wishing they’d talked to me as an adult, not a frightened child.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Quick question: Where does the electricity come from? If you think you can currently get all of that electricity from solar-plants or wind farms, you’re wrong. Unless you have a gigantic solar or wind farm nearby, the electricity that you use to power up your electric cars will probably be coming from your local power plant. So there is still pollution caused by electric cars, it’s just out of the sight of the driver. “Green” ads work really well until you start asking questions.

    1. JeffU says:

      Dear Mr. ANONYMOUS, Electricity can come from many different sources unlike gasoline. I do think I can get all of my electricity to charge my car from solar as many of our Plug In America members do already. Yes we will need our local and not so local power plants as our partners for a cleaner America for some time to come. That’s a good thing. As you point out electric cars can still pollute but their pollution is much less, if at all, then compared to gas cars. And, unlike gas cars, plugin car’s tiny pollution is confined to the power plant and not spread all over the city and counties of America. It’s easier to clean up a single power plant than the tens of millions of old gas cars with millions of tailpipes spewing poisons in our neighborhoods.

      Green ads work even after you anonymously start asking questions.

      Thank you for anonymously providing a spring-board for my reply to your common myth about plugin electric cars and their power sources.

      Read up on other common myths about plugin electric cars on this website.

      Say no to gas. Drive electric.

  4. Steve says:

    I think your PSAs are terrific and could have been the inspiration for one of these ads, but I’m not sure who came first:


    Publicité Mitsubishi I-MIEV – Voiture électrique


    Publicité Renault – La vie électrique

    They’re both virtually identical. I understand that Renault and Nissan are related somehow, but I’m not sure how Mitsubishi fits in.

  5. Adam Grim says:

    Your PSA’s really flatter Apple.

    1. Adam,

      No denying it!


  6. Great video. All I can say is: Nissan, please become a Gold Sponsor of Plug In America many times over!

  7. Bill says:

    That was fantastic and they obviously took it from your PSA. Whatever…the goal is to get the word out, right? It is a bit unfortunate that the used the best hybrid out there to poke fun at though. Of all gas cars the volt will probably use the least amount of the stuff for most of the people driving them, but I guess that was part of the whole “everything” uses gas concept. Even their competition that “call’s itself electric” uses gas, I guess. Well, it was well done and kudo’s to PIA for coming up with the concept!

  8. Richard says:

    Finally, an unabashed ad that speaks to those who “get” EVs, or potential drivers that are at least open to the concept.

    You wouldn’t buy any of these silly appliances, so why is it the default to buy a car that is gas-powered? Hope this ad gets lots of airplay and gets people talking, and thinking…

  9. Linda says:

    Thanks for the great blog, Zan.

    The simple visuals of Nissan’s Leaf ad are completely compelling. I’d like to add that Volt-driving Emmy Award-winning editor, Jeff U’Ren who was at the helm of Plug In America’s PSAs, also had, among many other things, the hair-raising inspiration for a gas-fired blow dryer PSA — although due to time and budget constraints that idea had to hit the cutting room floor, as they say.

    And “they” also say, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. So Nissan, we ARE flattered and thrilled that you made this spectacular new ad. Best one yet, and we couldn’t agree more.

  10. Sherry B says:

    Many of my friends have been seeing Plug In America’s PSAs on Hulu for 6 months now. Maybe Nissan will follow our lead and put their Leaf ads on Hulu? I can’t wait to see this new ad on TV too!

    1. Kelly Olsen says:

      Pretty clear to me that this was inspired by Plug In America’s PSA. Very flattering and it would be nice if somebody at Nissan said thanks for the inspiration. Just shows once again that PIA is a trail blazer and a leader in the EV movement!

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