Celebrities In Goofy Car Commercials: Some Greatest Hits

It’s no secret that car companies have long turned to flashy advertisements to turn their cold vehicular appliances into fantasies we want to welcome into our lives. At Jalopnik, we happen to adore those cold vehicular appliances on their own terms, but we love the fantasies they’re wrapped in too.

Welcome to Ad Watch, where you’ll get to see some of the most fun, imaginative, and outrageous car commercials out there and we’ll try to pull back the TV magic to show you how they work on the inside.


Carmakers the world over have long found star power rather persuasive when it comes to putting buyers in cars, but no one has used it to greater effect than the Japanese manufacturers. They had a knack for getting A-listers on board for a quick 30-second spot for Civics, Cedrics, or Corollas that automakers in Europe and America just couldn’t pull off.

Have a look at just how good companies like Toyota, Honda, and even Subaru were at getting stars –real-deal Western celebrities like Sean Connery and uh... Jack Nicklaus– in on their advertising to Japanese buyers while those same stars wouldn’t be caught dead in ads on American or British TV. The idea is that someone from abroad, someone recognizable ideally, could be more persuasive and authoritative in the eyes of Japanese car-buyers. Seriously. There’s real research on the subject.


Whether that continued to be the case when Lincoln got Matthew McConaughey behind the wheel of the (now-dead) Continental? I’ll leave that to you to decide. But regardless of effectiveness, these ads are a lot of fun. It’s always silly to see actors, comedians, and musicians out of context, and it doesn’t get more contextless than behind the wheel of a right-hand-drive Japanese-market car, does it?

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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Wasn’t just because Japanese like Western celebs; A-listers won’t do American ads because they feel it hurts their prestige or whatever, but Japan is a great place to get paid lots of money for ads Western audiences will never see. It’s how we get Tommy Lee Jones as an alien on earth studying humans and pitching ice coffee: