Nissan North America Inc. is using guerrilla tactics to market the Maxima as a "hot" car.
The automaker is showing the Maxima on six streets in New York City and Los Angeles, in displays that resemble singed movie sets. Street furniture around the car - lampposts, trash baskets, bicycles and parking meters - appears to have melted. Heat and fog machines add to the illusion.
Fred Suckow, Nissan's director of marketing, says the effort evokes a theme the Maxima has used since last spring in the automaker's "Touch" campaign. In TV commercials, passers-by who touch a Maxima feel its supposed hotness. For example, a woman who slips on ice goes from winter cold to summer heat.
"The street scene art ties it all together," Suckow says.
The displays began this month. The buzz they have generated has traveled beyond the sites, says Christopher Davis, executive creative director of True Agency, which is handling the effort. True is affiliated with Nissan's main advertising agency, Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day.
"There's no reason the street itself can't be a billboard," Davis says.
The scorched look might not win favor among urban residents used to real-life blight or to consumers who are reminded of news reports of car-bomb scenes in Iraq. Suckow says Nissan "wanted to be sensitive to those issues."
He says elements of each display, including the shiny new vehicle and a billboard, would easily allow viewers to "understand the site."