Nissan’s Lost Online Identity

Okay boys and girls, it’s time to talk about Nissan.

This post was probably worthy of being one of the first written, given the significance of what we’re about to talk about, but I’m trying to stick with the random order I generated months ago, so this is where this Nissan article lands.

These days (in 2020), if you want to learn more about Nissan cars and trucks online, you go to While that URL isn’t terrible, it’s not as elegant as simply

But isn’t about cars.

That’s because entrepreneur Uzi Nissan bought the domain in 1994 and used it for his computer and Internet business. Nissan, the carmaker, sued of course, but the courts have regularly sided with Nissan, the businessman, as he had a legitimate claim on the Nissan brand. Sadly, Uzi Nissan passed away several weeks ago.

Today we’re going to look at four primary domains that Nissan advertised over the years, giving the appearance that Nissan couldn’t really decide on a favorite, all because they couldn’t have

We’ll start with the website found in the oldest ad in the bunch. This ad appeared in a May 1997 magazine:

Nissan ad from May 1997

The ad shows the full Nissan lineup of the time, back when they only had a singular SUV. And they still made a minivan.

The tiny print at the bottom suggests visiting

That URL appears simple enough. If they can’t have, something explanatory like seems like a logical alternative.

More than two decades later, takes us here:

And by “here,” I mean “nowhere.”

The screengrab above is the default page my Internet service provider generates (sometimes) when it can’t reach a site.

That’s disappointing because a quick trip over to shows us that is still owned by Nissan North America. Would it be that hard to redirect the site to the current No it wouldn’t. Too bad.

Well, maybe we’ll have better luck with the next ad from February 1998:

Nissan ad from Feb. 1998

Wow! Do kids these days still watch Barney the Dinosaur? It looks like the series ended in 2009 but I suspect he may still be lurking in some living rooms (and minivans).

And check out that VCR! It’s on its side to fit between the front seats. And that screen has to be, what, 5 inches at most?

I imagine kids nowadays are spoiled with iPads of various sizes and nearly limitless video entertainment options. They may never know just how good they have it.

Anyway, I’m starting to sound like and old man, so let’s focus back on the website.

Twice on this ad, there are references to (with an emphasis on the extra dash in the URL).

It’s certainly fewer characters than mentioned above (well, two characters less, but still, it’s less).

Plus, this new URL is creeping closer to the current version of

Today, we get this:

Ugh. Again with the failed domain.

And once again, we can see that is also owned by Nissan North America. So now we have two missed opportunities to link old URLs to something current. I don’t think Barney would approve.

Our third ad is a bit of a gem in this endeavor:

Nissan ad from Sept. 1998

The ad is for the Nissan Altra EV which was an early testbed for fully electrified transportation long before the Nissan Leaf.

If the Altra looks a little unfamiliar to you, that’s probably because Nissan only built a handful of them. According to this article on Jalopnik, Nissan made about 200 of the cars and promptly gobbled them all back up at the end of their leases.

But the part we care about is at the bottom of the ad, we we have this little nugget:

From what I can tell on the Internet Archive, was focused more on Nissan’s North American operations than consumer information about the company’s automotive lineup, but I think it’s still valid for scrutiny in this this exercise among the other Nissan domains.

So what’s going on with today?

Bummer! Yet another miss for Nissan. Ugh. This is getting depressing.

And, yes, is still owned by Nissan North America, so this really is just inexcusably sloppy digital management.

Our final variation on a URL comes to us in this ad from June 2000:

Nissan ad from June 2000

This two-page spread makes a big deal of the fact that the first scheduled tune-up of the Nissan Sentra comes at 100,000 miles! Never mind the fact that that’s true for most modern cars. And you still need to change the oil many times. And flush the coolant. And replace the timing belt (I think this has a timing belt with an interference engine?). And do all sorts of other preventive maintenance well before 100,000 miles.

But that’s not the point of this ad. The point of this ad is buried in the fine print at the bottom of the right-hand page:

Now, was used in A LOT of ads, and it was a great part of the “Nissan: Driven” marketing strategy.

It’s a departure from the URLs we looked at earlier in this post, but it’s nice that it ties into the rest of Nissan’s marketing message of the time.

How driven is these days?

Okay! Well, that’s not bad. For the first time in this long post, Nissan has done something right. redirects seamlessly to the company’s current URL at

Were the other domains just too old? Does someone at Nissan have an affinity for Is anyone at Nissan really paying attention?

Who knows. But I’m glad to see that at least one of these old Nissan URLs still gives us something useful.

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