Back in the pre-internet days, when television and print ads were king, car manufacturers (or more accurately, their ad agencies) worked tirelessly to develop campaigns that would stick with potential customers by relentlessly pummeling them with relevant slogans, jingles, and tag lines. It worked: Many of us find ourselves recalling long-defunct commercial themes without even trying, and surely we’ve all dropped car-ad catchphrases as pop-culture references a time or two. Oh what a feeling, Toyota, anyone? Or maybe it was a high-concept presentation that did the trick. Ford really went in for this type of thing, with insane truck demonstrations and stunts like the Tempo loop.
Coordinated marketing is still very much a thing, of course, but the brain-searing effect is blunted by the mind-boggling number of platforms and channels and personalities we consume media from – not to mention the ability to skip ads entirely when we do encounter them. So we expect you’ll respond with oldies for this edition of Autopian Asks, wherein we query you thusly:
What car advertising campaigns have stuck with you (for better or worse)?
Also, have any commercials and/or ads ever influenced your buying decision? Consciously, that is– who knows what kind of subliminal hijinks are going on!
To the comments!
[Editor’s Note: For me, it’s gotta be the Ford Commercials showing F-Series machines carrying and towing the competition up a boulder-hill (Peter alluded to these in his lede):
I just haven’t been able to get that image out of my head for over a decade! -DT].
Yesterday we asked for your feedback on car-feature subscriptions, and lot of you are not fans. Surprise level: zero. However, mature adults that you are, concessions were readily made for the idea that some updatable features do require time and expense to be updated by the manufacturer, and thus a subscription plan for a reasonable fee makes sense. But paying to turn on physical components already in the car? Do Not Want.
ExParrot nails it quite succinctly:
Hardware should never be a subscription, unless it too is regularly changed out.
In short, if I’m going to continually pay a subscription, the manufacturer should be continually incurring cost for the service that is provided.
Or, if you prefer a little more color, Granulated MC is less restrained. GTFO indeed!
Software is expensive to write. Paying something after I bought the car for a new application running on the same hardware is fair … [but] paying to activate equipment that’s already in the car and completely disabled until I subscribe? GTFOtta here. That’s 100% profiteering. The hardware is there. You paid for it. Charging me extra for something you disabled because you can is a protection racket.
Ruivo will not haul your junk, you hear that manufacturers?!
Don’t paywall stuff that I can’t remove, change, or use an alternative. Want to charge me for the equivalent of an ECU remap? Open that platform to competitors, so I can have a choice. Charge me for heated seats? Allow me to remove your hardware – or, better yet, allow me to operate the thing myself. If I have the hardware on my car, that I paid for, but I’m not allowed to use it, it isn’t really mine, it is the manufacturer’s – so please collect your junk, I don’t want to haul it around.
All you responses were and are great, of course. Keep ’em coming! And special extra thanks to Members! If you haven’t joined yet, please consider becoming an official Autopian Member today.
I have this ad stuck in my head, so now I’m forcing it on all of you:
GET ON YOUR PONTIAC AND RIIIIIIIIIIDE!!!!
They should be ashamed of themselves for putting that generation LeMans in that ad. The only excitement that car would generate would be when you floored it at the start of the on ramp, and you studied the traffic you were about to merge into, then just started praying.
Love it! That’s awesome…I miss Pontiac!!!
I remember this ad from back in the day. Brings back memories of my ’89 Firebird Formula. Red, 5 speed manual, T-Tops and 305 screaming cubic inches of throttle body fuel injected mayhem. With the exception of the Mustang GT (and the Camaro version), it really was the only mainstream “performance” car you could buy, back then. I mean it made, like 140 hp, and would actually smoke a tire. That was pretty bad ass, for a new car in the mid 80s….I had no idea that there was an actual 3 minute long song.
Pontiac had some real bangers. I grew up in the “wider is better” era, haha. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWYpv4jDSjk
The Ford Sportka “evil twin” commercials were disturbing, but definitely memorable.
Surprised I haven’t seen a mention yet of BMW’s The Hire series.
Chevy. Like a rock. Still in the market for a C/K.
Also there was a Buick commercial, I think for the LeSabre with “Stand by Me” as the soundtrack. Whenever I think about I regret not buying a LeSabre.
Mercedes Benz from the 90ties: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpaBPUJIOls&list=PLltvy1PA0O_Onm-txQpOxT5zz5Z8yuKAf&index=5
Not because I like kids but it is so on the point, it almoszt hurts.
Buick’s advertising strangely stuck with me due to that stupid cheerful dance song played in virtually every ad plus my strange fascination with how hard the brand goes after women to get away from its “old man’s car” reputation. I don’t remember seeing a Buick commercial in recent memory with a man behind the wheel.
Where’s the cream filling?
My family has been referring to VWs as not cars since the “it’s not a car, it’s a Volkswagen” campaign. It stuck in that way.
No mention of Toyota’s infamous ‘Grounded to the ground’ yet?
Joe Isuzu. Trust me.
Mazda had these commercials in the Netherlands in the 90s. One had gnomes pretending to be the engine. Another showed someone driving while sleepy and they decide to drive into a tree so they can sleep on the airbag. So bizarre.
Edit: found it: https://youtu.be/WInyIh76H3w
I’m convinced this is actually the best campaign of all time: Anchan vs. the Daihatsu Wake:
It’s a whole series that documents one man’s descent into madness as he tries to one-up the Wake and can’t. Everything about it is incredible. I feel like I’m commenting a blog just mentioning it. The entire series is an absolute masterpiece.
I saw this one shortly after getting laid off the last round:
Screw it, automotive writing, it was nice while it lasted—but I want that job. An endless stream of test Porsches, but with fewer surprise layoffs and general herbery? SIGN ME UP.
Reinhold’s probably nearing retirement age given that this is a 993 commercial. Hire me, Porsche. Me me me.
(Also, gosh, the number of “there is no substitute” jokes I’ve made over the years have to qualify me for something.)
Oh, and remember when BMW was actually committed to being “the ultimate driving machine” and had some gottdang principles? Puffalump Farms remembers, and especially remembers the backwards rabbit ad: https://www.adforum.com/creative-work/ad/player/6688957/rabbit/bmw-1-series
Subaru, 1992, full on 90s look and self aware irony, contained the line “just another pathetic sheep following the herd.”
1986 Ford “Taurus for us”!
This Saturn ad with “We’ve Been Had” by The Walkmen has only gotten more bittersweet with time. RIP to a legend.
The VW ad with Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” is also lodged in my brain, but at least you can still buy VWs.
Two GM ads from car magazines:
1 – 94: Chevrolet Impala SS (Caprice based model) Spread across two pages “LORD VADER YOUR CAR IS READY. Available in 3 colors. Black, black and black” The cherry wasn’t available until 95 or 96…
2 – early 2000s’: Chevrolet Avalance Same spread across two pages “What do you expect when your engineers grew up with GI Joe and Transformers?”