Ford Trucks has Toby Keith. Chevy has Tim Allen. And for its tough-guy spokesman, Franklin-based Nissan North America has hired Bret Michaels – frontman for the metal band Poison.
Dressed in his signature do-rag, Bret Michaels appears in a series of commercials and web videos meant to show how tough Nissan’s commercial vans are. The ads are filmed in the Arizona desert where vehicles are put through the equivalent of 13 years of wear and tear, like a heat chamber to test the paint job.
“They coat it with salt, and they just plain bake it,” Michaels says. “Now that’s nasty, and I like it.”
Nissan even filmed a full-length music video, a parody of the 80s hit “Endless Love,” serenading the Nissan vans as he tours the testing facility.
To explain why Bret Michaels was the right fit for a spokesman, senior vice president Fred Diaz calls him an “enduring icon of rock” and an entrepreneur “who understands the need of small business owners” who might be in the market for a commercial van.
Nissan only recently introduced its cargo and passenger vans, which are built in Canton, Miss., along side its truck lines.
The sales numbers remain relatively small. Year to date, roughly 14,000 Nissan commercial vehicles have sold in the U.S., but that doubles the same period for 2013.
Nissan has used big name pitchmen before. Actor Robert Downey Jr. was named to voice the company’s commercials promoting the launch of the all-electric Leaf.