Amazing Car Ads: So Much To Celebrate And Critique

May 13, 2010

The world of car commercials and automotive ads is vast and nearly boundless, and it’s at once both inspirational and somehow disappointing. It's full of creativity and bland repetition. It's the pinnacle of "moving" art or the epitome of cheap visual tricks. So much money has been spent on automotive advertising over so many decades and in so many countries, it would easily surpass a national budget deficit or two--or three.

Why do car companies, ad agencies and assorted hangers-on spend such vast sums on car ads? Because car advertising, either in commercials or print, is an inextricable part of the automotive industry and culture. You cannot make a car part of the culture without the car commercial. Cars are part of almost every industrialized culture and the advertising that goes with them builds the car culture, cultivates the brand mystique and most importantly, it makes you think you have to have that particular vehicle because it will make you cool. And this applies to countries as varied as the United States, India, Japan, Canada, France or pretty much any place that has passable roads. Trust me, I have spent quite some time on Youtube going through various country car ads. It's global.

I would venture to say that the car commercial and various car ads of the past 50 years may be the single greatest under-appreciated form of influential pop-culture art (yes, I said 'art'), with even greater personal and cultural resonance than any Andy Warhol painting could or has ever have. Few things stick in your memory, and in your soul than a car ad that burns itself into your mental hard disk.

From the genius of VW ads (the GTI ads are too numerous to mention) to the comedy of numerous French ads (Ray Charles driving a Peugeot 306 convertible) to the utter Rube Goldberg genius of the many, many Honda ads we have seen on TV and the web, there is barely a person on this globe that hasn't been reached and provoked into some kind of passionate reaction of an automotive nature.

And of course there have been many bad, bad commercials in the automotive world, and I will comment on those. They are too are quite numerous.

I'll be combing through the greatest car ads there are, either print, video or any other medium I can find and let you know who's doing what or what has been done that was good bad or otherwise. I'll critique, I'll comment and I'll make my unique thoughts known like I have in many previous posts.

So follow along and I promise some interesting commentary on that which makes the automobile, in all its forms, aspirational and the subject of discussion the world over.

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