While most cars are still associated with pollution, Nissan is promoting its zero emission image through a new PR educational website called The Planet Zero. Aimed at high school and university students, it hopes to pique interest in the value of electric vehicles and zero emission mobility through an interactive game-style format. It utilizes a central character called Plug to symbolize and anthropomorphize the issues of zero emission, along with other mascots to represent clean energy solutions like solar panels and wind power generators. You can guide and control Plug across a spinning globe to the levels along a pathway. Then you jump into the levels and have to control him through obstacle courses (melting ice caps etc) requiring you to hop, jump and so on. It’s harder than it seems, especially with just a mouse cursor, and quite addictive and accessible, if not complex in its message (no doubt, deliberately so).

At present there are four levels in the game for users to “clear”, though more are set to be added later. There are also secret commands to be discovered, hoping to stimulate users to keep coming back to play on and explore the site.

Nissan has also launched the Flip Book Studio, a CGM portal for flip book-style comic strips featuring the Plug character. Users upload videos of their flip books to YouTube and they are aggregated in the Studio. The most popular videos are ranked (at writing the top video has nearly 40,000 “flips” or views). The site also includes an instruction video teaching you how to dry Plug.

These Flash sites are fully bilingual and aimed at global audiences, though their approaches (characters, games, comics) are ostensibly very “Japanese.” The interactivity of the games is a success at driving players on, even if they are not overtly eco-conscious consumers. By keeping the message simple and entertaining, Nissan is prompting people to consider their energy usage and encouraging easy steps towards reduce their environmental impact. And, of course, if one of those steps is purchasing a Nissan Leaf, the company couldn’t be happier.