Disclaimers: Just say “No.”

OK, we’ve all seen this TV spot:


In fact, we all saw it so many times that a backlash from viewers forced Nissan to tweet an apology:


All that’s a lesson in overexposure – which as we’ve learned from Miley Cyrus, can generate a heck of a lot of buzz, but as we’ve also learned from Ms. Cyrus, can be off-putting to a lot of people. (And I’m offering no opinion whatsoever on Miley. Twerk away, hon.) Nissan however, being in a highly competitive market, doesn’t want to risk annoying any potential customer; hence, the apology.

But that’s not what’s got me writing. Instead, it’s this:


“Fantasy. Do Not Attempt.”

…Seriously? The Rogue can’t leap onto trains? This is dangerous?

I know, I know. Disclaimers are nothing new. And we all know it’s the lawyers who force us to stick them in there. They’re just doing their job.

Still, I wouldn’t think of launching my car onto a moving passenger train (even an Amtrak, which likely isn’t going all that fast). And I bet you wouldn’t either. Nor would anyone you know.

So, since it’s the New Year, and therefore time for resolutions, I have one for our industry.

Tell the lawyers: “No more.”

I don’t wish to get into a discussion on how best to avoid frivolous lawsuits from numbskulls (or their surviving family members) who blame advertisers for TV commercials that “made them” do something stupid like drive a car onto the top of a speeding train. Maybe the disclaimer does the legal trick. But as a consumer, I feel like this company has just taken me for an idiot. That idiot.

If Nissan is expecting me to consider forking over $25-30 grand for a Rogue (a name, by the way, which I simply cannot stop associating with Sarah Palin), I sincerely desire not to be lumped in with a bunch of mythical mental midgets. To the contrary, I’d like to be held in the highest possible regard, thankyouverymuch.

Commercials like this tell me that, bottom line, a company is preoccupied with protecting themselves from wildly hypothetical lawsuits. Perhaps they should hire corporate lawyers that could actually win such a ridiculous case. And while it’s perfectly understandable to want to protect one’s business, legal maneuvering does not a positive and engaging brand make.

So to all the car companies, as well as anyone else out there using action-movie-type FX in their TV spots: No more disclaimers for idiots! Unless it’s something like:

“If you’re stupid enough to try this, please buy some other company’s car. Our customers aren’t morons.”


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