Break glass in case of adventure?

Ben Holland


Josh Mehler

Break glass in case of adventure?

            Advertisements can be helpful to a consumer, yet they can often leave out important aspects, messages, and values of a product. In the ad I am analyzing, the Nissan Armada is advertised as a vehicle ready for adventure, but the underlying characteristics of the SUV are that it is not fuel-efficient and it is bad for the Earth’s environment.

The first thing the viewer of the ad sees is the Armada inside a giant glass box, similar to one that would hold a fire extinguisher. The side of glass in front of the car reads, “BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF ADVENTURE,” playing on the usual “break glass in case of fire” label. This label immediately lets the viewer know there is a direct correlation between the Armada and adventure. The Armada is seen as a necessary tool for one to have a chance to do something out of the ordinary that breaks the mundane, daily routine.  Most people in the world value adventure because they don’t want to be seen as boring or they are tired of doing the same activities everyday of their lives. People don’t want to be seen as boring because of the negative social connotations that can result such as lack of friends and an unfulfilled life. Human beings naturally get bored of repetitive action. This tendency is evidenced by the replacement of humans on assembly lines by machines. Society looks down on “boring” individuals, pressuring them to find adventure. Adventure allows people to escape from what they know into a world of the exhilarating unknown. The whole point behind the ad is to engage the viewer’s imagination about how they can use the Armada to have themselves an adventure.

There is a man in the ad starring at the giant box that seems to be in awe of the results the box can bring him. He seems dull and ordinary, wearing dark clothing and glasses. Someone wearing glasses is stereotypically seen as having a boring life with no excitement. Nissan uses the man in the ad as a contrast to the exciting glow of the giant box. Just as differently contrasted color-wise the man is from the box, the man’s adventure in his life is miniscule compared to the level of adventure he could achieve with the Armada. The man is effective because the viewer can sense his desire for adventure and begin, either knowingly or unknowingly, to identify with him because they naturally desire adventure too. Adventure can mean different things to different people. To a mother, shopping can be an adventure. To a businessman, a trip to Las Vegas can merit the title of being adventuresome. Why did Nissan choose to place a man in their ad and not a woman? One possibility could be that there is already a stereotype of the “soccer mom” who drives around her many children with her SUV. By leaning towards the idea of adventure, Nissan is attempting to get viewers away from the stereotype and to focus on a different capability of the Armada.

            The Armada is shown in an urban setting, with the glow of city lights to the left in the distant background. To the right of the box and SUV, there looks like there is a factory-type building. The creators of the ad might have meant for the onlooker to think about breaking the everyday routine of a 9 to 5 job in the city and escaping into the wild, where adventure is everywhere. The wild can be anywhere the person who buys the Armada wishes. The SUV is even pointed in the opposite direction of the city, signaling where it will be headed; away from responsibility and the hassle of the workplace. To the right of the SUV, there are industrial buildings and factories. These factories could represent assembly lines and repetitive motions which the man is hoping to escape from as he seeks for adventure through the Armada. The SUV and its box are, also, conveniently located on the road as if to say the Armada is ready for action at all times. Another possibility is that the adventure the lackluster-dressed man will have if he breaks the box will be through venturing off into the nightlife of the city. With room for eight, the man has the potential to invite seven others, possibly girls, to come along with him. This idea is in direct contrast with the typical viewpoint that SUVs are normally used by soccer moms driving around a large number of kids.

Advertisers for this ad were very clever in making the Armada a tempting item to the average consumer. This ad is very successful because it creatively plays on the idea of a fire extinguisher box while at the same time saying that if someone buys the Armada they will experience immediate adventure. The reason this ad is alluring is that adventure is an important value to both the maker of the Armada and the consumer. The fact that adventure is emphasized points out that the target audience will value adventure as a desirable trait in their vehicle. As human beings, most people desire to have exciting lives filled with thrilling events. Therefore, people will desire to have the tools that will create the possibility for an adventurous life. Adventure is also important to Nissan in the ad, because they know that the consumer desires to find a way to make his or her life more exciting. By making the car in the box the center of the ad, Nissan hints that the central element of having an adventurous life is through the Armada.

But, is adventure all Nissan values? By making their ad all about adventure, Nissan has completely avoided how fuel-efficient and Earth-friendly their Armada is. I researched the fuel economy of the Armada on Nissan’s website, and found out the 2010 Nissan Armada only gets on average 12 miles per gallon in the city and 18 miles per gallon on the highway. This SUV is definitely gas-guzzling with the average mpg (miles per gallon) of an exotic sports car. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “the average truck on the road today emits 47 percent more smog-forming exhaust and 43 percent more of the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming than the average car. SUVs are a critical part of the light truck problem. While pickups and minivans are bad enough, SUVs are generally worse.” This aspect of the Armada makes it seem as if conserving gas was not a top priority when designing the vehicle. This careless flaw of the Armada is hurtful to our environment and pollutes the air much more than smaller-sized vehicles would. In fact, according to the U.S. News and World Report, “transportation is thought to account for about a third of the global-warming pollution America produces each year, and America, as everyone knows, is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.” They even go as far as saying it is “socially irresponsible to buy and drive an SUV.” This assumption is possible because SUVs are among the worst of any class of vehicle at conserving gasoline. The Armada also has three available rows that can seat up to 8. What is a person going to use seven other seats for in their car? “Nissan Armada. Live big, with adventure for 8,” reads the header for the Armada page on Nissan’s website. Nissan repeatedly wants the Armada to be seen as a method of finding adventure and now a social aspect to the eight possible seats is shown. I searched Nissan Armada on Google Images and almost all of the pictures show the SUV with either a rocky terrain or a bunch of trees in the background. Seeing all the pictures might make one think the outdoors is the Armada’s natural habitat. Why is the Armada shown in an urban setting in this ad?

Because adventure is the main point to the ad, most other aspects of the Armada are ignored. The fact that the Armada is a sports utility vehicle and uses a lot of gasoline is completely overlooked because of the ad’s content. Dependability, safety, and price among other things are left out too. The target audience for this advertisement is males who are able to drive. The man in the advertisement indicates that the ad is aimed at men, hoping they are searching to break the routine of their normal lives. Would the ad have the same effect if there was a woman in the picture or if the man was with his family? I hope the adults viewing this ad are able to look beyond the central message and see the underlying negatives within the SUV industry.

            In my spoof ad, I want to expose the fact that the Nissan Armada is still a sports utility vehicle and is damaging our environment by emitting greenhouse gases into our atmosphere and depleting our ozone layer. I want to bring forth the importance of saving and maintaining the world we live in because I feel ads like this one are hiding some of the causes of the Earth’s destruction. I am using the same idea as the original ad, but with a twist. I will have the glass read, “BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF DISREGARD FOR THE EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE.” This change will immediately make the reader aware of the intentions of the spoof ad by pointing out the careless attitude one has in buying the Armada. I want to make the viewer remember that they should research the miles per gallon of vehicles he or she is interested in and not just be tempted by ads guaranteeing adventure. Also, in the background to the left of the box I will put a green power plant, releasing toxic waste into the air. The power plant will emphasize the destructive nature of the vehicle. The change of the background of the ad is important because the new power plant is replacing the glow of the exciting city. I am placing Nissan’s logo on the power plant to demonstrate that the smoke coming out is directly Nissan’s fault. I am also changing the word in the bottom-left corner, “THE NEW FULL-SIZE NISSAN ARMADA” to “THE NEW GAS-GUZZLING NISSAN ARMADA.” The words are changed to emphasize the low gas mileage that the Armada gets because the original ad didn’t even mention it. There is also smoke inside of the box instead of bright lights. The Armada, instead of being shown as something magnificent, will look like a pollutant ready to clog up our air with smoke. In the top right corner I will have a bright red sun beating down upon all of the advertisement. The sun will indirectly represent the affect the Armada will have on the Earth’s temperature. The red color underlines the heat the destruction will bring. The man, instead of having a look of wonder will have a look of disgust at the absurdity that the box has. I hope the viewer of my spoof ad will have the same reaction.

The nature of the original ad disguises the negative aspects of the Armada, making it seem as nothing but an adventure tool. The Nissan ad makes the Armada seem all about adventure and carelessly neglects to reveal the negative results the SUV can have on our Earth. My spoof ad is exposing the Nissan ad, revealing that the Armada isn’t just about adventure, showing that it is hurtful to our atmosphere as well.

Works Cited

Horn, Michael.  “Sinning in an SUV.” U.S. News & World Report.  16 Dec. 2002: ABI/INFORM Global, ProQuest. Web.  18 Nov. 2009.

Mark, Jason. “Taming the SUV.” Nucleus The Magazine of the Union for Concerned Scientists. Vol. 21 No. 3 (Fall 1999): 1. Web. 18 Nov. 2009.

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