Car Manufacturer and Ad Agency Settle False-Advertising Claims for “Hill Climb” Ad

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In a 2011 commercial for the Nissan Frontier produced by advertising agency TBWA Worldwide, Inc., the audience sees the wheels of an elaborately designed dune buggy spinning and kicking up sand in a fruitless attempt to climb a steep hill. The dune buggy is stuck. Suddenly, a red midsize pickup truck speeds up the sand-covered hill and pushes the stranded dune buggy to the top, as bystanders off camera exclaim: “Gun it, bro!” “What’s this guy doing?” “Whoa, man. No way.” “Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!” “Are you kidding?” “Did you guys see that?” “Maniac!” The commercial’s voiceover message states: “The midsize Nissan Frontier with full-size horsepower and torque. Innovation for doers, innovation for all.”

The 30-second commercial “Hill Climb” aired on television and over the Internet. The video, shot to look like a YouTube video taken on someone’s cell phone camera, is action-packed and entertaining. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it also constitutes false advertising, despite the disclaimer placed in the bottom right corner of the frame that states: “Fictionalization. Do not attempt.”

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