In our cyberpunk dystopian present, we’re inundated with advertisements every day. Ads for products, for subpar employment, or for the military-industrial complex. Sometimes, however, those ads are for cars — and that’s where they can get fun.
I used to work in marketing, and those ‘60s and ‘70s Volkswagen ads constantly came up as case studies — examples of the highest peaks that print advertising can achieve. For something a bit more modern, car ads have brought us innovations like the Mill Blackbird.
For me, however, the peak of the car ad as art will always be BMW Films. In the early aughts, BMW gathered known filmmakers with distinctive styles and handed them cameras and the keys to the BMW fleet. They had to include Clive Owen, star of the series, but that was about it — beyond that, they were left to their own whims.
Also, Song 2 by Blur absolutely slaps as a driving anthem, and this video introduced a young Steve to that track.
Honda also had some pretty interesting Type R ads back in 2015, when Weiden+Kennedy made its incredible Other Side dual-video ad. The idea was to show off the duality of the Civic as both daily and racer, with a YouTube video that switched between two different parallel stories when viewers held the R key on their keyboards.
That original video has since been lost to link rot and YouTube’s discontinued support, but demos are still around. Nothing gold can stay in our impermanent digital age, but at least we have echoes of what once was.
What are your favorite automotive ads? Print, video, digital, or particularly interesting product placement opportunities are all eligible here. Comment your favorites, and we’ll compile the results into a best-of list later in the day.