Top ten TV car adverts
Ever the staple of the pub chinwag, adverts are more and more part of our sphere of consciousness – often irritatingly so. Think Smash, Guinness and Levis. Then think Honda, Volkswagen and Citroen.
Creatives are finding ever more novel ways to burrow into the parts of our minds that love cars, and ever more expensive ways of spending manufacturer´s advertising budgets.
Motor advertising, perhaps more than any other product you’re being flogged, is often the most nebulous, baffling, witty and simply jaw-dropping commercial form out there today: from the curiously affecting Singin In
The Rain Golf GTI pastiche; the astonishing if ultimately meaningless Honda Cog ad; to the downright disturbing
Audi RS4 Black Widow.
So rather than indulge in a well-meaning, yet ultimately unenlightening, trawl through why we think the following ads are good, we lined up a top-flight advertising account director to tell us not just which ones we should like, but why we should like them. On the basis that he didn’t start talking about ‘brand positioning’.
And we asked him to slag one off, just for balance.
Golf GTI: Singing in the Rain
What an astonishing piece of film. Everyone´s favourite sodden dancer, Gene Kelly, bodypops his way through a scene we all remember, to a track that takes your head off.
It´s 60' you won´t forget, and will make you long for Christmas, so that you can watch Singin’ In The Rain all over again, whilst avoiding the standard familial bickering. Maybe they´ll do Good Morning (It´s Great To Stay Up
Late) next time - how good would that be!?
Oh, apparently there´s a car in it, but I wouldn´t worry about that too much.
View the Peugeot 206 advert here
Citroen C4: Transformer Skates
Last year, a seemingly innocuous car sprung from the slightly grim surrounds of an urban carpark, and started dancing just like the geeky guy out of the Lynx ad from whenever it was. How good was that?!
Everyone loved it, everyone spoofed it, and subconsciously everyone started to think of Citroens as funky cars laden with technology ('It´s a dancing robot, for chrissakes!'). As importantly, people started to like them.
They were fun, they were charming. And now they´re cold, evil skating robots that you wouldn´t leave your kids alone with. Resolutely male, and resolutely cold: it´s just too damn smooth, lacking all the clunky loveliness of the first film. Too much cash to splash...
View the Audi RS4 advert here
Advertising´s easy sometimes, isn´t it? Honda´s strategy is based on a simple thought - never stop innovating. Here, with their new diesel engine, there´s a fabulous product story - they scrapped their engine and started all over again because they didn´t understand why diesel should be dirty.
Job done. And then a pair of geniuses created an animated fantasy world where psychedelic nature gradually eradicates the DIRTY diesel engines until we´re left with the beautiful put-put of Honda´s creation: all the while,
Garrison Keiller´s dulcet tones lead us in a singalong that will be stuck in my head for days.
It´s one of the most beautiful pieces of film about hate ever created. Everyone loves Honda advertising: This is why.
View the Volkswagen Polo advert here
Vauxhall Corsa: Hide and Seek
I worked on this, so I´m unashamedly biased and partisan. Fortunately, you´d struggle to find a dissenting voice.
While the rest of Europe had to put up with Bon Jovi, people running on beaches and uber-cool twenty- somethings with sculpted facial hair executing slow motion power grabs on clifftops (if you don´t know what a power grab is, you need to read up on your air guitar/hair band histories, you really do) we got a bunch of Corsas pissing about in the city. And isn´t that ultimately what small cars are for?
An ad that changed perceptions of a brand, at least until Clarkson had another rant about how shit the old
Lovely, lovely, lovely. And yes, I´m biased, and no, I couldn´t care less.
View the Honda Cog advert here
Vauxhall Cavalier: Sledgehammer
Classic advertising never ages: Apple´s epic, and epoch-defining ´1984´ spot, for example, looks as cool now as it did, well, in 1984.
One way of ensuring that your advertising can be pinpointed almost to the minute though is to use Peter
Gabriel on the soundtrack. But, for some reason, it just doesn´t seem to matter here: this is a great piece of film.
The cars look dreadful: but that´s just how cars looked back then. Vauxhall´s mid-Atlantic stadium-rock sonic mnemonic (or ´jingle´, if you will) remains as cringeworthy as ever.
I think it´s probably a combination of two things: one, it´s a reminder of a time when Vauxhall was British and Clarkson hadn´t told us that it wasn´t OK to like them anymore; and two, they basically blow a load of stuff up.
And that´s always cool.
View the Nissan transformation advert here
And the worst car advert:
Renault Clio: French Car, British Designers
Look, it´s that fit bloke from Holby City! (Jeremy Sheffield). And look, it´s Generic Fit French Girl Who Would
Probably Be Audrey Tatou If We Could Afford Her! (Annelise Hesme).
And they´re bickering in a frenzy of simmering sexual tension! And it´s a little xenophobic, but that´s OK, because they´re just so damned cute! So much so that we can almost forgive the hackneyed national cliches that are being wheeled out.
Until the voiceover comes in: it sounds like they got the captain of the chess club in for a laugh. Rarely has the word ´va-va-voom´ been driveled in such a lifeless fashion.
So, in short: two pretty people pull each other´s hair in a highly punchable fashion until a painfully nasal voice tells us that this car´s twice as good as it used to be.
I´m not quite sure why the whole French/British thing is a good thing, and I really don´t care. I´m going to watch the bit in Manon Des Sources where Emanuelle Beart gets naked and remember the good old days of ´Nicole and Papa´. This spectacular smug-fest can piss off.