How Ferrari’s Ego Lost a Customer For Life – While Nissan Seized the Opportunity


In recent news, Ferrari decided to take themselves a bit too seriously and decided to send Deadmau5 a cease and desist letter to remove the vinyl wrap and custom badging from his personally owned Ferrari 458 Spyder. While the Nyan Cat inspired Ferrari 458 is not to every one’s liking, this particular car has been getting a lot of press when Ferrari Corporate decided to get involved by telling a customer what they are or not allowed to do to their car.

While this may come as a dick move from Ferrari, it is still legal for them to request it not because of the wrap on the car but rather because of the badging being removed and replaced. De-badging a car is frowned upon but re-badging it with a different logo is a trademark infringement. This is Ferrari’s issue with Purrari, the infamous 458 spider that now is back to its original state as the famous DJ complied.

The real question remains… Was this the right business move for Ferrari? While Ferrari was within its legal right to request Deadmau5 to restore the car to its originally trademarked state, it was perhaps one of the worst decisions it could ever make, especially with the ever growing popularity the 458 has gained with a younger audience as Ferrari once intended and wanted. What Ferrari did was protect its image for its older clientele who perhaps saw that as diminishing of their investment into the brand. What Ferrari seems to have forgotten is that the younger crowds paying attention and considering Ferrari’s today are tomorrow’s buyers and a move like that simply comes across as very uncool. While many will forget and many will never even have heard of this incident, this is the exact reason that Lamborghini gains market share over Ferrari and constantly puts out better numbers year after year.

Another interesting phenomenon is that another car manufacturer saw Ferrari’s mistake as a perfect opportunity to gain popularity and brand exposure worldwide with a mere $100,000 supercar. The mighty underdog Nissan, who has desperately been trying to enter the exotic car market with its GTR, has sent Deadmau5 a tweet very hard to refuse. A GTR already wrapped and badged like his old Ferrari 458 Spyder.

This small move by Nissan will not only get headlines everywhere but will also put the GTR from a branding standpoint as valid replacement to the 458. While both cars are completely different and both marvel of performance engineering, what Nissan has done is place itself in the media as a direct performance competitor to the 458, and that alone is easily worth a $100,000.

While you may think the GTR is ahead of the 458 in terms of performance, the public eye and common non enthusiasts are not as educated as the rest of the world, and now will have to second look at Nissan to understand why that just happened.

This leads me to my last point about the importance of branding and how one company’s mistake can become a golden opportunity for another. While Ferrari can say all it wants about protecting its brand and value, it will also realize over time that no one likes a brand that takes itself too seriously, especially not in the lifestyle industry.

Owning a Ferrari is an accomplishment that should be allowed to be enjoyed in any way the driver decides to. While I would have agreed with Ferrari if the replacement badge on Purrari was that of a competitor but it was a cat, and clearly in good fun. In the end, Deadmau5 has moved onto a McLaren 650S which has already been under the knife with his design tweaks.

Way to go Nissan, and perhaps lesson learned for Ferrari. What do you think? Good or bad move on Ferrari’s part?