See Ridley Scott's Controversial 1990 Car Commercial That Aired Only Once

Ridley Scott commercials are works of art. 

Fast cars are fun. They are the closest any of us will get to being in NASCAR or F1 racing. You sit behind the wheel, hear a powerful engine rev, and the sound takes you over. It feels like nothing can catch you. 

That feeling was the marketing behind Nissan's 1990 300ZX Turbo. In its most famous commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, they tell a story of a dreamer and the attempts made to catch him in his Twin Turbo Z.

This spot aired only once, during the Super Bowl. So why was it pulled? 

Check it out below. 

It feels like every car commercial is about driving fast. You know the disclaimer they play? "This is a professional driver on a closed course," the one that completely demystifies what's happening?

Well, Ridley Scott's commercial didn't have that. 

It had a car moving fast over a landscape. It had an airplane and motorcycles and an F1 chasing it. 

“I’m in a Turbo Z,” says the narrator of the resulting spot “Turbo Dream,” first broadcast during Super Bowl XXIV in 1990. “These guys are after me, but they can’t catch me."

And “just as they’re about to catch me, the twin turbos kick in.”

This commercial seemed to usher in something bigger. It was a new way to think about sports cars. Brief history lesson: Japanese sports cars were not popular in the 70s or 80s, but in the 90s they were taking America by storm. 

The American auto industry was upset, and Hollywood actually saw some anti-Japanese sentiment. We saw bad guys in movies who were Japanese. One of those movies was Ridley Scott's Black Rain, which is actually a pretty interesting movie overall, but did play into the public sentiment of the time. 

Still, Scott followed that up with this Nissan commercial, which got in trouble for a lot of reasons that seem kind of dumb today.

"The commercial was protested by groups like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Governors’ Highway Safety Representatives and others," writes Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky. “The issue was that the ad was thought to glorify speeding,” and the commercial never aired again.   

I feel like the car commercials we see today do this all the time. But it's funny to think about Ridley Scott being in trouble for glorifying speeding in the early 90s. The car just drives in a straight line. I don't even think what we see seems dangerous. 

It's also nice to see a car commercial that doesn't involve the salt flats in Utah with aimless driving across a dry lake bed. 

Do you think this commercial should have been pulled? Let me know what you think in the comments.      

Your Comment

12 Comments

Now that’s a commercial!!! Compare that to the dog shit of today. Just like the mood, tone and execution of movies / music of the 80 / early 90’s, gets your blood pumping. What happened....? Political correctness and reality tv / social media...

October 23, 2020 at 10:31AM

21
Reply

This is an awesome spot. Such a nice change from regular car commercials. I should know I have voiced enough of them over the years and produced a few for TV. Great job Mr Scott.

October 23, 2020 at 6:08PM

4
Reply

Consider this one:
'An old granny sells her old Volkswagen Golf' aired in the Netherlands. You will understand - no translation needed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rop9CY02Gfg

October 24, 2020 at 5:29AM

0
Reply
Jan-Willem Arnold
Film maker
81

I always enjoyed VW commercials. They seem to have lost their humor in recent years.

October 30, 2020 at 10:41AM

1
Reply
avatar
David Patterson
videographer/editor
600

Its the XX chromosone of yesterday. Why should a masculine, strong, very fast car upset somebody back then? XY should never do as they please, 2020 is now. Should have a Nissan Z blow out of someone's abdomen. Oops.

October 24, 2020 at 7:13AM

0
Reply
avatar
Tony Abrego
Artist
8

every shot in the "ad" was absolutely o.k., that decision of stopping it was simply stupid.

October 25, 2020 at 6:16AM, Edited October 25, 6:16AM

0
Reply

Viettel Quảng Ngãi | Tổng đài Internet Viettel | Khuyến Mãi

October 25, 2020 at 9:32PM

0
Reply
avatar
Viettel Quảng Ngãi
Viettel Quảng Ngãi | Tổng đài Internet Viettel | Khuyến Mãi
59

Sorry but I find it confusing.Maybe the use of long lens all the time?I’ve seen much better comercials by Ridley Scott. Could it be wasn’t good enough and they pulled out for another?

October 26, 2020 at 1:08AM, Edited October 26, 1:08AM

1
Reply
avatar
Javier Diez
Director/Writer
458

Awesome commercial. Sadly we have coddled the weak in this country for the last 30 years ... now we have a bunch of weak whiny always the victim types ... Sad Day

October 26, 2020 at 7:03PM

1
Reply

232A Đường số 19, phường Bình Trị Đông B, quận Bình Tân, Tp. Hồ Chí Minh

October 26, 2020 at 10:02PM

0
Reply
avatar
Đông trùng hạ thảo Hector
Đông trùng hạ thảo Hector | Sản phẩm Hector Công ty Lavite
29

That narrator is Mark Fenske, who back in the 1990s was probably the most famous advertising creative director around. He wrote tons of commercials you definitely know if you were around then. (Sadly Fenske is not the nicest guy in the world.)

October 28, 2020 at 8:53AM

0
Reply

"It had a car moving fast over a landscape. It had an airplane and motorcycles and an F1 chasing it. "

It's a Dreamscape, not a landscape - the first words of the dialog even indicate the driver is in a dream.
Where is the more then one motorcycle?

And, proving the writer is not a motorsport fan,.. That Is Not An "F1" car,... looks more like an 80's IMSA car.

Who does the fact checking around here??!!

November 7, 2020 at 10:07AM, Edited November 7, 10:07AM

0
Reply
avatar
Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
587