This Homemade Ad for a ’96 Maxima Was So Incredible, Nissan Bought the Car From the Guy

Automaker also donated to his favorite charity

When it comes to unloading an old clunker, Luke Aker knows how to kick it into a higher gear.

The Orlando, Fla., filmmaker's subversively funny campaign to sell his 17-year-old Nissan Maxima wasn't just successful at selling the car. The push also went viral, attracting Nissan USA as the buyer and generating high-octane visibility for both Aker and the auto brand.

Aker's minute-long video, the centerpiece of his ad blitz, mixes color and black-and-white footage in an homage to almost every luxury automaker cliche. Note how the camera lovingly caresses the hood held in place by a ratchet strap and the well-worn, copiously taped upholstery. The spot-on, British-accented narration explains how "this vehicle can guarantee it will get you from point A to B … most of the time."

Aker tells AdFreak: "I posted the video in September, and it had amazing success at first—well, what I considered to be awesome for my video, a little over 11,000 views in about a week or so." The project continued to pick up speed, then truly exploded in popularity after a friend posted it to Reddit. Today the clip has nearly 600,000 views.

Along with the clip, Aker took a multimedia approach to getting that jalopy out of his garage. A sarcastic print ad posited that the 1996 sedan is unlikely to get stolen from "a dark parking lot in Modesto" because the other nearby vehicles will be far more appealing, while a Craigslist post promised, "This pavement yacht has a ride as smooth as Pegasus' backside."

Nissan USA noticed Aker's appeal and on Tuesday it purchased his sweet ride for $1,400, donating an additional $1,000 to his charity of choice, The Wounded Warriors Project.

"It's really fun to see a company like Nissan reach out like this," says Aker, who aspires to direct or produce commercials for automakers. Maybe Jerry Seinfeld should move over and give Aker a turn in the driver's seat.

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.