There’s plenty that can make a car advert triumph; whether it’s the sheer genius behind those precious few moments, a touch of humour, a famous face or the jaw-dropping beauty of the model itself. There’s certainly been many memorable picks through the years, so here we take a look at the seven best car ads of all time, starting with our favourite contribution from Lexus.
1. Lexus IS: Poise
You don’t have to be a ballet dancer to appreciate the incredible moves of the English National Ballet’s principal dancer, Tamara Rojo, in this slick, predominantly black and white ad. The mind and body-bending moves on show were a clear illustration of the arrival of a new era for Lexus in 2013, as the focus was shifted onto even better design and driving dynamics with the new IS.
2. Honda Accord: The Cog
The genius of this advert is that after watching it, you immediately want to watch it back again. Although the car on offer was hardly something to set your pulse racing, Honda came up with a seriously impressive ad to try and shift them. Starting with a solitary cog, an intricate chain reaction ensues where lots of different parts from an Accord knock, roll or swing into each other, revealing the complete car at the end. And yes - after hundreds of attempts - it’s all filmed in one take.
3. Renault Clio: Interesting
Anyone over the age of 30 and named Nicole might want to look away at this point! After the success of the first Renault ad featuring the now infamous Papa and Nicole in 1991, the duo went on to reprise their roles for the next seven years. While you’re sure to recognise the ads, you might not know that the scenes were adapted from the film How to Steal a Million, which starred Audrey Hepburn as Nicole Bonnet. As much as we love the ads though, the Nicoles among us might not appreciate how many times they heard “Papa” call out to them right through the 90s.
4. Ford Puma: Steve McQueen
Adverts don’t come much cooler than this effort from Ford. For a start, it features ‘The King of Cool’, so how do you top that? Actual footage of Steve McQueen’s used to imagine the American actor driving a Puma around the unmistakably atmospheric streets of San Francisco, before he parks it up next to a Mustang in his garage. After fixing his stare on a classic motorbike, McQueen turns to leave and pats his car on the boot on the way. Top stuff.
5. Volkswagen Golf: Changes
One of the most famous car adverts from the 80s, this ad features model Paula Hamilton made to look more than a little bit like Princess Diana. Seemingly fed up with life at home, Hamilton slams the front door behind her before posting her wedding ring back through the letterbox and ripping off her pearl necklace and throwing it in the bin. After ditching a fancy brooch and her fur coat, one thing she can’t bring herself to do is chuck the keys to her Golf down the drain.
6. Volkswagen Passat: The Force
Another entry from VW here, and you don’t need to be a Star Wars fan to appreciate the brilliance of this one. The Dark Lord’s menacing music plays as a mini Darth Vader fails to impose the ‘Power of The Force’ in a range of amusing household situations. We defy you not to giggle your way through this ad, especially when the kid’s dad comes home in a Passat and lends a helping hand to the leader of the Dark Side.
7. Citroen C4: Transformer
We love to have a little dance here at Inchcape Lexus, and we also love Transformers. So it looks like this ad’s the perfect combination for us, as after a carbot’s seen having a good stretch and transforming into a Citroen C4, it suddenly leaps back into life when a funky tune kicks in. Cue lots of dancing and car body-popping in this 2004 ad, which was an early purveyor of CGI technology.
Of course, these are just a handful of the imaginative, iconic or downright hilarious car ads we’ve seen on our screens over the last few decades. With manufacturers constantly seeking to outdo each other in the memorability stakes, the list of hits is almost endless.
Did you think any of these seven are undeserving of our praise? Perhaps you’ve a favourite car ad we’ve missed or might have forgotten? Share via social media to let us know!