The Best Automotive Ads of all time

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Every year, an incredibly large amount of money is spent on automotive advertising.  The real figure is in the ball park of 20 billion dollars a year.  Let’s face it, the majority of national car ads may be somewhat forgettable.  However, there are a few that have always stood out from the rest often as works of cinematic art.  Video production is easy to come by, but truly creative campaigns are a valuable commodity.  Here are 10 auto ads that truly raised the bar in their creativity and execution:


10.  Pontiac GTO “Motor Trend Car of the Year”

Brand: Pontiac
Featured Vehicle: GTO
Year: 1969
An early adopter in taking advantage of now commonly used accolades.  Although this ad certainly did no favors in its representation of the motor trend judges, it did creatively hammer the fact that this car was the best of the best.


9.  Kia “Soul Hamster”

Brand: Kia
Featured Vehicle: Soul
Year: 2010
When it comes to the Kia Soul hamsters people tend to either like them or absolutely hate them.  However, that isn’t what is important. The fact of the matter is that people remember them. The jingle in this ad also has the tendency to get stuck in your head like an earworm burrowing into your brain.  Since the release of this ad, these human-sized rodents have become the official mascot of the Kia Soul.


8.  Volkswagen “Big Day”

Brand: Volkswagen
Featured Vehicle: Jetta
Year: 2001
Creating a cinematic twist in a 60 second ad with no dialogue is no easy feat. However, Volkswagen pulled it off with style in their 2001 Jetta ad “big day.” The ultimate message “fasten your seatbelts,” resounded perfectly with the heart-pounding plot twist that they managed to produce.


7.  Chevy Camaro “Birth of Something Else”

Brand: Chevrolet
Featured Vehicle: Camaro
Year: 1966
Forged in the fires of an erupting volcano… Well, more like assembled in a plant in Detroit, but close enough.  In terms of product launches Chevy’s Camaro launch was stellar.  Riding on the heels of the Ford Mustang release 2 years prior, Chevy made sure to set the image of their pony car apart from the rest and they did so with fire and brimstone.


6.  Nissan “Top Gun”

Brand: Nissan
Featured Vehicle: Maxima
Year: 1997
Inspired by Tony Scott’s 1986 film this ad captured the audience’s attention immediately with its use of pigeon puppets. This ad pokes fun at a conspiracy theory that we all secretly believe; that birds are plotting to defecate on our cars.


5.  Audi “What do you Want?”

Brand: Audi
Featured Vehicle: none
Year: 2006
Audi is notorious for taking creative shots at other luxury brands in an attempt to set itself apart.  This European ad is absolutely beautiful in its message and simplicity.  It manages to tout the benefits of the competitors and then sets Audi above them all.


4.  Chevy “Like a Rock”

Brand: Chevrolet
Featured Vehicle: Silverado
Year: 1991
We could easily write an entire article on the best truck ads of all time. However, with montages of rugged Americana incorporating every socioeconomic class and Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” playing in the background, this ad is the king of pickup ads. In fact, this ad was so hugely successful that Chevy used “Like a Rock” as their truck jingle for more than a decade, allegedly netting Bob Seger more than $10 million.


3. Volkswagen “The Force”

Brand: Volkswagen
Featured Vehicle: Passat
Year: 2011
This was one of the most memorable super bowl ads in recent history and frankly it had everything going for it; a good product, a dog and an adorable kid in a Vader costume. This ad has been viewed over 61 million times on YouTube.


2.  Audi R8 “Old Luxury”

Brand: Audi
Featured Vehicle: R8
Year: 2009
For the 2009 superbowl Audi produced an incredibly creative shot at “old luxury,” and Italian auto makers.  This parody of one of the most memorable cinematic scenes of the past century generated massive amounts of buzz.


1.  Honda “The Cog”

Brand: Honda
Featured Vehicle: Accord Wagon
Year: 2003
This ad is widely regarded as one of the best rebranding campaigns ever produced. Although the reception of this ad was riddled with accusations of plagiarism, it has received more awards than any ad in history.  The 120 second Rube Goldberg machine made entirely of auto parts is absolutely hypnotizing to watch.  It would be difficult to argue against the fact that this is the best car ad that has ever been produced.


In closing

When a manufacturer does a great job in generating brand excitement, it makes our job on the local level so much easier.   How hard is it to sell something that everyone already wants?  Next time we’ll look at an interesting evolution of the local car ad.

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