Top 10 Car Commercials

By this point I hope you have all had the chance to spend some quality time with those who matter to you most -your family and friends.  As we sit in between the last Holiday of 2011 and the first of 2012 it is probably a good time to quickly review the year that was.  2011 was the beginning of many things, this blog for one.  it was also the start of my consulting business AACS (Advanced Automotive Consulting Services).  If you are an automotive supplier and looking for ways to win more business at higher margins I would be happy to show you how.  2011 was also the beginning of the “new normal” in the auto industry; even though the issue of overcapacity still remains.  The solution for suppliers and manufacturers alike is to develop either the least expensive solution that meets the requirements or to find a way to deliver a product or experience that your customers are willing to pay extra for.  In my opinion this is perhaps the most important lesson from 2011 – the middle of the market is starting to disappear so you better figure out which end of things you want to live.  But enough with the “heavy” subject matter – let’s get back to the fun and review my Top 10 All-Time Favorite Auto Commercials.

Before I get started I need to name off a few Honorable Mentions.  First I have to go all the way back to my childhood in the 60s and 70s and nominate this old Charger ClipPerhaps on a future Top 10 List I can do the old commercials (they were great for their time but most can’t hold water to today’s efforts).  Also getting props for almost making the list are the Citroen C4 Transformer ad, the Toyota Swagger Wagon commercial, and any number of Kia ads, from the first Hamster commercial with The Black Sheep, to the Yo Gabba Gabba one, to the latest Party Rock with LMFAO and the Volkswagen Unpimp your Auto commercials (and here).  There are more, but in the interest of leaving this blog SFW I will not include the Australian Pathfinder commercial that touts it’s front independent suspension (you need to be age appropriate to watch).

#10 – Honda Accord – Cog

Maybe it’s the way they made the wheels roll uphill, or the rain sensing windshield wipers “walking” across the floor, or perhaps even the use of Rapper’s Delight but I can watch the Rube Goldberg mechanizations over and over.  The best part?  This is not trick photography.  The worst part?  Wagons are getting rare in the States.

#9 – Dodge Challenger – Freedom

The commercial ends with the great line, the two things America got right are cars and freedom.  As an immigrant I can certainly agree to the freedom comment.  Cars? Not so much although I am a HUGE fan of muscle cars and I am also a HUGE fan of soccer (as anybody who has seen my home office can attest to).  The commercial commemorated the 2010 World Cup soccer game between the US and the UK which ended in a 1-1 draw.  This is a great example where a draw equals a win.

#8 – Fiat Palio – Revenge

It must be my dry sense of humor (and irony) that attracts me to certain commercials like this oneIn this case it is the absurdity that anyone who bought a Palio would care if anyone else ever touched it.  I think the driver was just a jerk – or perhaps he just really hates bike riders like this guy– but the ad is still funny.

#7  – Toyota Vios – Sea Monster

Another commercial that panders to my sense of humor – apparently I share it with a few people in Malaysia where this ad originally aired.  Like the Fiat above I am sure the Vios is a great car in its own right.  But the thought that the Vios is “irresistible”?  Hardly.

#6 – Volkswagen – The Force

I am not alone in liking this one – it was often voted the best Super Bowl commercial in 2011.  And why not, the kid is cute and the Star Wars tie-in fits perfectly with the intended demographic for the all-new Passat (If you were 13 when Star Wars came out you would be 47 today).  Volkswagen is going to try and do it again in 2012 with the all-new Beetle.

#5 – Peugeot 206 – The Sculptor

If Malaysia gets an entry, then India should get one tooAs far as car ads go, this commercial is picture perfect.  I could talk about it for a few paragraphs but it is much more eloquently discussed here.  The music? “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Raja Mushtaq.

#4 – Chrysler 200 – Eminem

There is not much I can say about this commercial that hasn’t already been said.  As mentioned at an event I attended this year, who could imagine that a commercial could give a car company back its soul?  I have heard from more than one person working at a competitor that it is their favorite car commercial of all time – now THAT is praise.

#3 – Ford SportKa – The Evil Twin

Another commercial with a macabre sense of humorthis one actually caused quite a controversy.  It can never be know if the original “cat” video or this one showing a pigeon came first but either way it had animal activists up in arms.  I look at it like a “hit-in-the-crotch” video on America’s Funniest Home Videos, it is not intended to condone the senseless acts of violence.

#2 – Fiat 500 Abarth – Seduction

If humor sells, sex sells even better (in the car business that is).  This recent commercial introducing the Abarth brand to the masses in North America drives this point home.  I came to terms with the question of a car being female or male year’s ago, but for those of you who are still on the fence this ad should do it.  I can also honestly say that I have never though of kissing my car (ok, you have me on a technicality – I did think of kissing my race car a time or two like Alex Tagliani here).

#1 – Porsche Carrera – Spoiler

If the last commercial made you sure that all cars are females, here comes one that puts things in doubt again.  Perhaps the male/female question is more related to brand than anything else.  It doesn’t matter, this may be the best feature-related commercial of all time.  At least, until someone makes a minivan commercial with seats that can recline all the way.  Funny, I cannot find any controversy on this one anywhere on the net – perhaps they should have pretended to harm an animal?

That does it for my list… did I forget or skip your favorite?  Post a link in the comments below.  I will end with a wish for all of my readers and friends to have a Safe and Happy New Year.  We will see you all again on Tuesday, January 3rd with the Auto Design Week in Review.

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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