For better or worse, cats have a long history of selling things in Japan. Take, for example, maneki neko 招き猫, so-called "beckoning cat" statues, which pose in a come-hither-esque fashion. Occasionally equipped with a mechanical arm, they are often said to summon customers and business success and are used for good luck. A common site in Japan, maneki neko are often white and black and holding a gold koban coin, although more artisanal versions also exist. Here’s one in action after receiving the once over from a few friends:

As you can see, a pendulum device inside the cat maintains the swinging arm. To the two house cats featured, the figure appears to be a curiosity.

More Cat Products

While maneki neko aren't without charm, various businesses are relying on more lifelike feline designs as they attempt to gain favor among consumers and further their brand. Delivery service Kuroneko Yamato, “Black Cat Yamato,” recently released truck-shaped boxes to turn cats into delivery drivers, and rereleased their cat-shaped parcels.

Manga artist Ririn Yamano, on the other hand, makes cat-themed artwork that is popular online. Earlier this year, the illustrator collaborated with online retailer Felissimo to create pillowcases donning cat illustrations. The product was part of Felissimo's "cat club" product line.

More recently, however, automobile manufacturer Nissan adapted its "Nissan Days" campaign to accommodate cat lovers. Playing off the Japanese equivalent of "meow," "nya," the company introduced its commercial naturally titled "Nyasan Days." Needless to say, the short video is rather adorable.

“Nyasan Days”

As you can see, the short commercial introduces several features now available in Nissan's line of small passenger vehicles. A driver test's the brake assist and other new features on the road while the cat goes on his own test drive at home. Admittedly, he looks pretty confident navigating his way through traffic as he drives around the house. And despite sticking his head out where the windshield should be, he appears to have a lot of fun.

To supplement the short commercial and further appeal to fans, Nissan also released a making-of video that provides a glimpse behind the scenes. Have a look:

Apparently, filming began pretty early, so the camera crew was initially forced to work with some grumpy cats. Fickle just like any talent, it seems it was difficult to get the two stars to play their respective parts. As you can see, they hardly stayed put in the car, and forget trying to get them to wear human clothes or a cap.

That said, it appears that everyone eventually warmed up and had a good time. Cats and staff got some good playtime in, and at other moments the feline actors appeared to play hide-and-seek with the remote control car prop. There was also time for some relaxation and games. All in all, it seems like it was a pretty good day.

Internet Reaction

Nissan clearly had a demographic in mind upon making its recent PR choice. These fans and viewers seemed to enjoy the effort that the company took. They responded:

  • “I think there will be more people who want to buy the cat car over the real one.”
  • “This commercial seemed fairly easy for the cats to make”
  • “Cute! I want one. We need one for my house.”
  • “I can’t stand this. It’s too cute. I wonder how long it took to shoot.”
  • “This is amazing. Even the name alone. This type of playfulness in marketing is sorely needed.”
  • “I want to give my cat a car like this.”
  • “Wow, props to Nissan for making such a refreshingly fun commercial.”
  • “There’s no way cat lovers can resist this commercial.”

If the campaign's success continues, perhaps we'll see feline actors more often in Nissan's commercial. And cat car's available for purchase.

By - Luke Mahoney.