Moving Picture Company: “Polar Bear” for Nissan Leaf

Love it or hate it, Nissan has released a provocative new ad to unveil the automakers first electric car, Nissan Leaf. In Polar Bear —directed by Daniel Kleinman with post-production by MPC— the company tugs at the heartstrings of viewers by showing an arctic bear fleeing from its eroding habitat in search of a better home. The result is strangely moving, while at the same time, pretentious. Lets play devils advocate.

In many ways, Polar Bear is a snapshot of now: an ad that takes the pulse of the times and sums up how we are at this very instant. It’s an ad that, for better or worse, will give you goosebumps. It’s so elegantly packaged —so squeaky clean— which for some, may be too slick. Lets be honest, we’ve seen these ads before. Nissan is not the first —surely not the last— to market themselves as environmentally friendly. Laced with schmaltzy narratives, corporations pontificate about the greater good, while behind the scenes, rake in awesome profits. Moreover, Polar Bear is not the kind of content we usually post on Motionographer, so why post it?

The reality is obvious: many companies today are looking for creative ways to cash in on going green. Greenwashing, or misleading the public in matter of a companies environmental practices, has become commonplace. And while advertising has always appealed to altruistic lure, the verdict on Polar Bear is up in the air. However potent, it remains to be seen if the spot will be a bellwether for change or commercial hyperbole. In Nissan’s case, their environmental record is nothing special, but hope to get big by going small.

Time will tell if the company puts its money where its mouth is, but in the meantime, we’ll muse. In an attempt to start a conversation, we’d like you to weigh in. Is Polar Bear an example of corporate greenwashing or a step forward in the right direction?

More here on the fully electric, Nissan Leaf.




This is a tough one.

Yes, it is massively pretentious, it’s squeaky clean and I have to admit it did give me goosebumps – but these kinds of campaigns are always shadowed by the fact that green means profit. Assumedly – Nissan will be making a lot of sales from this ad, it will no doubt reach a lot of people and the ‘Leaf’ will become a successful vehicle in the near future.

The reality is – for Nissan, it’s about making sales. And if making sales means the brand needs to be perceived as being green – as environmentally friendly by building a zero emissions vehicle. Then they are going to do it.

When it comes down to it building a zero emissions car is a step in the right direction. Even if building this new technology is in fact stamping a larger footprint than building a regular car – it’s still something that needs to be done and will have to start somewhere. The technology needs to be developed for the consumer – and the message needs to get out there.

If this ad means that nissan will sell millions of these cars. Than this ad means that millions have become conscious of their emissions. To me that’s greenwashing in the right direction.


I see where your going at:

But is a step in the right direction.


As the lustre of the global cooling, oops – warming, oops – climate change, oops – climate disruption hoax continues to tarnish, I think we’ll see this pass along as well. Advertisers are going to ride the “green” thing as long as they see it as an effective marketing tool.


I agree with you, ClintF. If the whole ‘end of the world’ thing was more popular they would use it to their advantage.

Ask anybody who is passionate about going green to shoot this same ad, but tell them that they will lose tons of money because the populace has moved on to another trend. More than likely it’s the sales that makes the decision, not the passion.


Politics and global warming aside, fossil fuels are a finite resource. There are almost 7 billion people, and another billion in the next 10 years. At best estimates if the whole world suddenly switched to electric cars today, it would at best buy us another 10 years of fossil fuel. People need to think much much deeper than just a light bulb or some silly car…


The commercial is kinda… broken. The bear is depressed in the beginning because her home is falling apart due to humans. So she travels thousands of miles to thank a human for getting a LEAF. If the car had somehow restored her habitat, then it woulda worked.

I mean, if anything, the bear should’ve travelled to the LEAF guy and said “Why couldn’t you have done this sooner, you douche bag?”


Gawd, how much longer are they gonna milk the polar bear?

No doubt we humans have an impact on nature with all the pollution, disasters, oil spills, industrial waste and it’s good to switch to cars like these but global warming isn’t just man-made. The earth and sun are going through cycles as well.

There’s a lot of money to be made in “global warmings”, so be aware of the true environmentalists and scam artists:


Hey Col,

I think most people can agree, politicians are slimy, and most if not all make money on there agendas. But creating a business model out of sustainable technology isn’t the worst idea. Most other countries in the world from Germany to Saudi Arabia to Iran, are putting substantial thought into their future energy needs(not oil), and most are 30 years ahead of the US. You don’t need to have a multi-trillion dollar war just to get some oil and opium. These are obsolete methods. Creating vibrant economies run on sustainable energy will allow a better, healthier, more interesting life for all.


Well-written post, Brandon. As expected, this tactic is skeptically received, primarily because of it’s commercial nature. I doubt if it will make any serious impact in the green movement.


I think it comes off tremendously arrogant… all things considered. I’d be pretty insulted if I was a polar bear. ; )
That being said, the car is a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully the public will have enough sense to embrace the developing technology without having to be told that a large carnivore will show up on behalf of the natural world to absolve them of their past exploitations.


Absolutely nauseating. If the polar bear is going to make such an epic journey, why not for the opposite and more effective purpose of eviscerating all the obviously terrible people who are destroying the environment with their gas-powered cars? Whatever the technical merits of the spot, this is exactly the kind of smug, self-congratulatory approach to eco-marketing that congratulates the small choir and while alienating the majority that you might want to adopt your product.

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