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Nissan began the advertising of its new Titan XD pickup last night during the college football National Championship game with an ad called “Shoulders of Giants”. It was a Super Bowl-like image ad, very much in the way of the recent Super Bowl ads from Fiat Chrysler. This is no coincidence, as Nissan’s Fred Diaz, Nissan’s sales VP until recently (now in charge of trucks and commercial vehicles), was the head of Fiat Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand before moving to Nissan a few years ago.

The ad (click below to watch), elicits images of heroes from firefighters to astronauts to moms and dads – the giants on whose shoulders we stand to reach new heights. Nissan draws a parallel from these heroes to the giants of the pickup market, “Chevy…Ford…Dodge”. Of course, the ad shows very old models of each brand that it is honoring. It would never show their latest models, partially because the styling of the new Titan has been criticized as a weird hybrid of styling of those 3 competitors (the “Nissan F-Ramverado”).

To me, the most interesting part of the ad is in one particular choice of wording. According to Nissan’s Diaz, “We ached and pained over every word, comma, and pause in this ad because we didn’t want our competitors looking at it and thinking we’re trying to give them a backhanded compliment. That’s not the case. We’re not doing this to be shallow. Our thank-you is sincere.” Maybe, but Diaz was instrumental in the rebranding of Dodge trucks into Ram Trucks several years ago. It is beyond belief that referring to his former employer’s truck brand by its old name was a mistake or an oversight. I’m sure some Nissan PR person would tell you that using Dodge vs. Ram was meant to refer to the history of the trucks, but I think it was the subtlest of digs at his friends in Auburn Hills.

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