It started out innocently enough, with Nissan promoting its all-new Juke by sponsoring a segment on the Late Show with David Letterman. But it ended with a race to 53rd and Broadway, where Letterman and Manhattan Ford salesman Ahmed Younes haggled over the price of a brand-new Ford Fusion on the air, coming to a deal in front of the studio audience.
During an episode of last week's Late Show, ten swimsuit models read jokes for the popular "Late Show Top Ten" segment as part of a promotion for the Juke, Nissan's new mini-SUV. Following the segment, Letterman poked fun at the Juke's name, asking crew members to look up the dictionary definition of the word "juke" and stopping the show to say it repeatedly.
When Letterman returned from a commercial break, he announced that he had been asked not to promote the Juke, but rather Ford products – presumably another of the show's sponsors. This caused uproarious laughter in the audience, but also gave producers an idea. They called two local dealerships – a Nissan dealer, and Manhattan Ford – and told them to get to the studio in half an hour with a car to sell, promising that Dave would buy a car from whoever got there first.
When Younes arrived in a tuxedo black 2011 Ford Fusion, he was stunned to be quickly ushered on stage in front of the 400-strong crowd at Broadway's Ed Sullivan Theatre. After briefly discussing the car, Letterman asked Younes the price – then inquired about a discount. Younes knocked $2,000 off the price of the Fusion for Letterman before the two struck a deal and shook hands.
According to an interview with Younes, a Nissan salesman eventually did show up, but was too late to sell the car to Letterman. But despite the jabs at the Juke's name – and the fact that it didn't make an on-air appearance – Nissan was pleased with the free coverage the newly-released model received on the show.
"Any mention is a good mention," said Scott Vazin, a public relations director at Nissan North America. "We all felt like we capitalized on something inadvertently. Everybody felt like it was pretty positive."
Younes also said the Late Show really did purchase the Fusion, adding that the show plans to donate the sedan to charity.
You can watch the full Late Show episode on the CBS website. Skip ahead to the 10:15 mark to see Letterman riff on the Nissan Juke. Jump to the 29:30 mark to see him negotiate on the Fusion.