“Tough Love” with a drop of good old “Poison”

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So Nissan is in the midst rolling out a new marketing campaign to tout the hardiness of its commercial vans – with a little help from Bret Michaels (seen below), best known as the lead singer for Poison, one of the great “hair bands” from back in the halcyon days of heavy metal.

[If like me you love this style of music, you watch one of Poison’s 1980s-era music video classics by clicking here.]

Called the “Tough Love” campaign and sporting the tag line “the tougher we test them, the more you love them,” Fred Diaz, senior VP of sales, marketing, and operations for Nissan North America, explained that this effort is aimed at burnishing the “durability” chops of Nissan’s commercial lineup with small business owners.

“Nissan commercial vehicles endure more than 6,600 tests during the development process, including being put through a 140-degree heat chamber, salt spray tunnel, frame twister, shaker machine, pothole-ridden roads and grueling brake tests,” he explained.

“Bret Michaels, with his reputation as an enduring icon of rock, was not only a perfect fit for the vehicles, he was also a valued collaborator in developing the ‘Tough Love’ campaign,” Diaz added. “With his entrepreneurial spirit, he understands the needs of small business owners for trucks you can depend on.”

The centerpiece of Nissan’s new marketing effort is a full-length music video featuring Michaels serenading various van models to the tune of that infamous 1980s love song “Endless Love” as he joins Nissan technicians during vehicle durability testing at Nissan’s Arizona Testing Center, a 3,050-acre facility in Stanfield, AZ.

Now, while I totally understand this is a “tough-in-cheek” outreach campaign, did they HAVE to use “Endless Love”? Really? For not only is it one of the most “grating-on-the-ears” love songs EVER, it served as the theme song for a 1981 movie where things ended VERY badly for the protagonists.

[Just take a look at the trailer for the remake of “Endless Love” released earlier this year to see what I mean ...]

All that aside, though, Michaels does a great job highlighting the specific testing procedures Nissan subjects it vans to – indeed, he filmed a whole series of them, highlighting each individual test process.

Below are a couple of them. First, the brake test:

Next, a visit to the salt spray tunnel:

In all, Nissan said the various testing procedures its uses compress about 13 years of real-world use into about three months:

“As one of the newest nameplates in the commercial vehicle segment, we want to bring attention to the operational efficiency of our innovative, durable Nissan NV Cargo, NV Passenger and NV200 Cargo vans – but do it in a way that gets business owners’ attention,” noted Diaz.

“Bret Michaels is a true hardcore car and motorcycle enthusiast and really took an interest in the entire development and testing process,” he added. “He also amazed us during filming by relating experiences from his life to the messages we’re sharing about the durability testing of our lineup of Nissan commercial vehicles.”

In the end, Diaz said the point of Nissan’s “Tough Love” campaign is to show buyers that it builds a commercial van that can keep up and never let owners down, because when their vans are down, so are their businesses.

“With Bret Michaels’ help, we’re showing that Nissan commercial vehicles are tested to perform,” he pointed out. “These are vehicles owners can depend on year in and year out, through all sorts of conditions.”

Time will tell if the “Tough Love” campaign will help Nissan commercial vans sell, of course.

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