Commercials are a viable way for a car company to push a brand into the public eye. Creating something memorable – whether it is clever, hilarious or crazy – is a sure-fire way to increase brand recognition.
Olivier Francois, French CEO of Italian company Fiat, is the current darling of car branding for his wickedly funny ad campaigns. His Blue Pill commercial was used to oomph up the tiny Fiat into an all-wheel-drive monster version, while Derek Zoolander was the pop-culture tool used to sell the Fiat 500X.
Here are ten car commercials that cover the gamut from awesome to wince-worthy and downright WTF moments.
Citroen do strange like nobody else. Its cars are packed with quirks that are sometimes downright bizarre, and so are its ads.
The 1970s Citroën DS is often listed as one of the most beautiful cars of all time, but it’s equally renowned for its independent suspension and innovative use of hydraulics. Current Citroëns continue that heritage of edgy styling and seat-of-the-pants technology, plus add a little French ‘je ne sais quois’ on some of the packaging and internal detailing.
So it makes sense that Citroën’s ads are as quirky as the cars. After all, Citroën isn’t seeking the average customer. Dancing robots with great moves but for no apparent reason? A Citroën driving out of the head of pop icon Grace Jones as she screams at nothing in particular? C’est la vie!
These ads get to the heart of what sets Citroën apart from the herd.
In Fiat’s Blue Pill ad, when the ageing man howls in frustration as his “performance” pill bounds from roof tile to downspout and into the fuel of a tiny Fiat 500X, we feel his pain.
The pill works its magic to bulge up the little Fiat into an all-wheel version, and we totally get what Fiat is telling us. It’s that reach to the everyman that Fiat has perfected!
It was a risky move to use hamsters to sell a car – cute animals are scraping the bottom of the advertising bowl – but it worked for Kia. Maybe because, as creative directors, D&G commented after winning a string of awards for the campaign, “the hamsters always have their paws on the pulse of pop culture”.
Kia needed to dramatically increase its international profile and emphasise the edgy cred of the Kia Soul, and the hamsters made it happen.
Oh, this is gold! Close your ears to the American “Su-BAH-roo” twang and go straight to the crux: the car is “cheap and ugly”. Say what? You heard it. They went with it. (wait until you get to 1:30!)
BMW prides itself on creating the pure driver’s car, so what better way to make the point than in a series of extreme driving shorts.
The Hire is a series of short movies using renowned directors and actors. High-profile stars including Clive Owen, James Brown, Madonna and Gary Oldman hammer the message home that BMW is driver cool.
Ford do a great job in the States exploiting their 60 and 70s muscle car heritage, with lots of dad-and-son drive stories. It also captured the Aussie experience in a more down-to-earth way with its controversial (and banned) cane toad ad.
Ford also nailed the hot hatch demographic when it partnered with Ken Block. Ford got Block to put a modified Fiesta through the Gymkhana paces, which was a great way to showcase what a little hatch can do.
Audi is all about bringing it to the traditional luxury car market and showing BMW and Mercedes-Benz up as old school. Its way of poo-pooing the opposition is direct and effective. The ad Release the Hounds is a classic example, while Doberhuahua is hilarious.
Mercedes-Benz is about class, heritage and dependable luxury. Not In this Weather is a classic yet slightly naughty ad that emphasises the ability of a Benz.
Uncrashable Cars might be one of the most effective ads on the benefits of safety technology … ever.
Volkswagen loves to reference its dependable, Germanic character, and YAYAYA may be the catchiest thing you will sing all day.
The Cog is a fascinating Rube Goldberg sequence that epitomises the Honda byline: “Isn’t it nice when things just work”. It has even inspired a whole genre of copycat ads.