Automotive commercials have been a staple of television advertising for decades. Some of the most creative and memorable commercials have come from the auto industry, showcasing the unique features and styles of different car models. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top automotive commercials of all time and what made them so successful.
- Volkswagen “Think Small” (1960)
In the 1960s, American consumers were obsessed with big cars with powerful engines. Volkswagen, a relatively unknown foreign car brand at the time, decided to take a different approach. Their “Think Small” campaign was a groundbreaking ad that used a minimalist approach to advertise the Volkswagen Beetle, which was small and affordable. The ad’s simplicity was refreshing, as it emphasized the practicality and fuel efficiency of the car. The ad’s tagline, “Lemon,” added a humorous touch and has become one of the most iconic lines in advertising history.
- Honda “The Cog” (2003)
Honda’s “The Cog” ad was a technical masterpiece that showcased the company’s engineering prowess. The ad features a series of Rube Goldberg machines made up of Honda car parts. The intricate machines set off a chain reaction, demonstrating Honda’s dedication to innovation and quality. The ad is visually stunning and mesmerizing, making it a standout in the automotive advertising world.
- Ford “The First Mustang” (2014)
Ford’s “The First Mustang” ad aired during the 2014 Super Bowl and was a tribute to the iconic American muscle car. The ad showcases the evolution of the Mustang over the years, and its place in American culture. The commercial is a sentimental nod to the history of the Mustang, and a reminder of why it remains a beloved car model today.
- Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” (2011)
Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” ad is a powerful and emotional tribute to the resilience of the city of Detroit. The commercial features rapper Eminem driving through the streets of Detroit, while a narrator talks about the city’s hardships and triumphs. The ad is a testament to the importance of supporting American-made products, and it’s a reminder of the strength and perseverance of the American people.
- BMW “The Hire” (2001)
BMW’s “The Hire” was a series of short films released in 2001, which starred Clive Owen as “The Driver,” a highly skilled and mysterious driver who takes on various assignments for wealthy clients. The films showcased the speed, agility, and sleek design of BMW cars, while providing a compelling storyline. The films were a commercial success and helped to establish BMW as a brand associated with style and sophistication.
- Audi “Vampire Party” (2012)
Audi’s “Vampire Party” ad aired during the 2012 Super Bowl and was a hilarious take on the popular vampire trend at the time. The ad features a group of vampires having a party in the middle of the night, but they’re disrupted by the arrival of an Audi with bright LED headlights. The ad is humorous and memorable, and it effectively highlights the advanced technology and design of Audi cars.
- Dodge “Man’s Last Stand” (2010)
Dodge’s “Man’s Last Stand” ad is a humorous take on the battle of the sexes. The commercial features a man standing up for his right to drive a powerful and exciting car, despite his partner’s objections. The ad is clever, funny, and relatable, making it a hit with viewers.
- Cadillac “Poolside” (2014)
Cadillac’s “Poolside” ad features actor Neal McDonough as a smug, successful businessman extolling the virtues of the American work ethic. The ad is controversial, as it portrays McDonough as
an alpha male who is living the American dream. While the ad received some criticism, it was undeniably effective at capturing attention and promoting the Cadillac brand.
- Chevrolet “Like a Rock” (1991)
Chevrolet’s “Like a Rock” campaign ran for over a decade, from 1991 to 2004, and it featured Bob Seger’s song “Like a Rock” as the soundtrack. The campaign emphasized the toughness and reliability of Chevrolet trucks, and the emotional appeal of the song struck a chord with viewers. The “Like a Rock” campaign is still remembered today as one of the most successful and memorable automotive advertising campaigns.
- Oldsmobile “This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” (1988)
Oldsmobile’s “This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” campaign was launched in 1988 to promote the brand to a younger generation. The campaign featured celebrities like William Shatner and Dick Clark, who helped to modernize the image of the Oldsmobile brand. The campaign was a success, and it helped to boost sales for Oldsmobile during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Why these commercials are successful
So, what makes these commercials so successful? There are a few key factors that contribute to their effectiveness.
Firstly, these commercials all tell a story. Whether it’s the story of the evolution of the Mustang or the battle of the sexes in the Dodge commercial, each ad has a compelling narrative that captures the attention of viewers.
Secondly, these commercials are all memorable. Whether it’s the simplicity of the “Think Small” ad or the technical wizardry of “The Cog,” each commercial has a unique and memorable aspect that makes it stand out from the rest.
Thirdly, these commercials all connect with viewers on an emotional level. Whether it’s the patriotism of the Chrysler ad or the humor of the Audi ad, each commercial strikes a chord with viewers and creates a connection between the brand and the consumer.
Automotive commercials have come a long way over the years, from the simple and practical “Think Small” ad of the 1960s to the technical and visually stunning “The Cog” ad of the 2000s. Each of the commercials on this list has a unique and memorable aspect that makes it stand out from the rest, and they all connect with viewers on an emotional level. By telling a story, being memorable, and connecting with viewers on an emotional level, these ads have helped to sell cars and establish these brands as leaders in the automotive industry.