A Nissan commercial that showed a father and son racing a yellow bus to school — prompting protests from many pupil transportation professionals — has been taken off of the air.
In the ad, a man driving his son in a Nissan Altima pulls up to a school bus stop just in time to see the bus driver disapprovingly shut the door and drive away. The father then proceeds to race the bus to school, and the son exults as he steps out of the car just as the bus arrives.
The National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) denounced the commercial when it began airing earlier this year. NAPT Executive Director Mike Martin wrote a message to Nissan in which he said that the ad “sends all the wrong messages to the motoring public, especially to parents whose children use what in reality is America's largest and safest system of mass transportation — school buses.”
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation (NYAPT) had a similar reaction to the ad, writing on Facebook earlier this year, “We join NAPT in expressing our outrage over this Nissan commercial.” NYAPT also contacted a law firm, which created a blog post and an online petition calling for the ad's removal.
Then, during National School Bus Safety Week last month, NAPT posted a video in which Martin again criticized the commercial and called on the school bus industry to contact Nissan about it.
The campaign worked: A Nissan North America official emailed Martin on Nov. 6, saying that the company “removed the ad completely from all of our national and regional advertising rotations” and offering a statement of apology.
The commercial “was intended to tell a story [in] an irreverent and entertaining way,” Nissan said in the statement. “After hearing from the National Association for Pupil Transportation and many school transportation professionals, we realize that our attempt at humor has been perceived as a slight to those people who do an honorable and invaluable service to their communities. School bus drivers are entrusted with our nation's most precious resources, our children. We thank them for their service and dedication to safety on the roads and apologize for the attempt at humor that resulted [in] an unintended offense.”
In announcing Nissan’s response on the NAPT website, Martin said that “the fact that they were willing to not only pull the ad but do it immediately is gratifying. Nonetheless, the fact that this commercial made it on the air at all is still extremely disappointing."