Back in the ‘90s, amidst the fervor of children’s toys coming to life and going on adventures through the bedroom, backyard, infinity and beyond – Nissan decided to cash in on the angle and produce its own toy ads.
They were fantastic, continue to be wonderfully retro, and we wish the company would do it again.
The pair of ads, which highlighted Nissan’s 300ZX and Pathfinder, arrived in 1996 to both industry and consumer acclaim … all except for Mattel, which sued Nissan for trademark and copyright infringement due to the dolls’ striking resemblance to G.I. Joe and Barbie.
The suit eventually settled out of court but it nonetheless garnered some bad blood on what was a relatively innocent commercial. But just who was that creepy guy at the end in the ads?
That was Nissan’s ‘Mr. K’ character, loosely based on Yutaka Katayama, the man who started Nissan’s first sales operation in the US and the widely regarded father of the brand’s 240Z and extended lineage of Z-cars. Hence the 300ZX as the starring role.
Just goes to show you that a little Van Halen or KISS, some children’s toys, and a catchy slogan – ‘Enjoy the Ride’ – can go a long, long way. If Nissan were to re-do the Toy Story theme, what cars would you want featured?