Nissan to Millennials: If You Really Want to Get Around, Don’t Drive

This Nissan ad, in heavy rotation during the NFL playoffs, smacks of 21st century carmaker desperation.

In “Commute,” a young motorist, stuck with colleagues in city traffic and watching cyclists pass her by, speeds onto a conveniently located ramp and launches her Nissan Rogue on top of a passing train. Now they can get where they’re going quickly and reliably.

“Fantasy, do not attempt,” reads a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer, as the driver floors it and M.I.A.’s “Y.A.L.A.” pulses in the background. “Cars can’t jump on trains.”

True to car ad convention, the millennial crew lands in an empty parking lot, having arrived early for their meeting. Says the voice-over: “Commute your way with the bold, all-new Nissan Rogue.”

This ad bears resemblance to the subject of the first-ever Streetsblog Ad Nauseam. The ground has shifted in the seven years since General Motors levitated cars and drivers above traffic-choked urban streets. While motorists still yearn to escape their own gridlock, the Nissan ad is a pretty clear-cut expression of automaker anxiety over millennials’ transportation preferences.

Cars can’t jump on trains — but people can, and increasing numbers of young Americans are opting not to drive. In 2014, “commute your way” sounds less like a car company slogan than an invitation to trade the hassles of auto ownership for a bike or metro pass.

The real fantasy, of course, is that you can drive everywhere without expecting to get stuck in traffic. Carmakers know this, and their target audience does too. Wrote one YouTube commenter: “Millennials are choosing transit and bikes over car-debt. Nissan, your strategy is showing.”

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