Nissan Reaches Agreement With FTC Over “Deceptive” Frontier Ads

The Federal Trade Commission and Nissan have come to an agreement over commercials for the Frontier pickup truck that the FTC said were deceptive. In the ad that aired on national television, called “Hill Climb,” a Nissan Frontier was shown scaling a steep sand dune and pushing a stranded dune buggy.

The FTC complaint asserts that the Nissan Frontier commercial was shot in “a realistic ‘YouTube’ style, as if it were shot on a mobile phone,” which could have misled consumers into believing the truck could actually perform as shown. A small disclaimer at the bottom of the screen said, “Fictionalization. Do not attempt.” In reality, the truck and the dune buggy were towed up the sand dune by guide cables. “This ad made the Nissan Frontier appear capable of doing something it can’t do,” FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director Jessica Reich said in a statement.

The proposed agreement will require Nissan, and its advertising agency TBWA Worldwide, to avoid misrepresenting, “any material quality or feature of a pickup truck through the depiction of a test, experiment, or demonstration.” Special effects will still be permitted in Nissan ads, so long as they do not exaggerate the vehicle’s performance.

Around the same time as the “Hill Climb” ad aired, Nissan showed another commercial in which a Frontier helps a disabled airplane land safely.

A Nissan spokesman said in an emailed statement, “Nissan takes its commitment to fair and truthful advertising seriously. The company has been and remains committed to complying with the law.”