Since Ford gave us the first televised advertisement for a car in 1955, there has been a catalogue of countless concoctions of car commercial craziness, creativity, cleverness and... crap. A selection of delights from the veritable buffet of vehicular broadcasts include this delectable display from Audi:
This desi delight from Peugeot:
And this absolute stonker from Jaguar:
Amazing, right? Though, to be honest, Jaguar could showcase the F-Type with Gary Glitter kerb-crawling outside a primary school and I’d still want one more than my next breath. Three very different styles of car advertising but each one equally brilliant in its own way. There are countless others I could mention. Who could forget the classic selection of Golf adverts from the 1980’s leaving you to wonder “if only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen”, or when the sight of every Vauxhall on the road got you whistling Layla by Eric Clapton. Some of the gems have been slightly cheesy of course, but cheese is acceptable when it’s clever, warm or endearing.
I love car advertising when it is done right. Some of the best examples of TV ad spots in history have been there to encourage you to drop a shit-ton of money on what most of us see as the second biggest investment we will ever make in our lives. Which is why when I first saw this a few weeks ago...:
... I sat shocked in disbelief at the bile that Renault had just poured down my throat, powerless to do anything much more than stare lifelessly at the television as I attempted to comprehend what life would be like now that this... THIS... precedent had been set for advertising cars. I know it’s a car you’d forget before you’ve even finished looking at it - it’s a crossover, the sort of vehicle people buy when they don’t give a shit about cars - but really? Seriously, Renault?! You use divorce as a marketing tool? You portray a couple ending their marriage, but still toddling off to their beach house for a quickie before heading to the solicitors to cut all ties?
Who came up with this drivel? Are you trying to imply that a drive across the mountains in this coma-inducing wheeled box acts as some sort of miracle aphrodisiac to people who can’t stand the sight of one another? Do you see Nissan chucking a suicidal drug addict in a Juke only to come out the other end going to night school and becoming the CEO of a multinational company? Are Volkswagen showing new mothers with post-natal depression and their baby in the back of a Tiguan, somehow resulting in them becoming the next Judy and Andy Murray?! Renault, whoever you employ to do your advertising, cut all ties immediately. And don’t let them sweet talk you into joining them at their fucking beach house!
But then, it’s not the worst car advert I’ve ever seen, and I’ll tell you why. Despite it being absurd, it made me want to get up and write this article to lambast it. It provoked a reaction, thereby making it worthy of conversation. In other words, it’s not the absolute worst thing a car advert can be: boring. And there are plenty examples of that these days:
*Yawn* And so on. I can‘t even be arsed to find a third video. But you get the idea. Various shots of the product doing no more than 20mph (because heaven forfend we have some fun in our lives) set to some random track the producer found on Spotify. Add some smiling extras - with perfect teeth and every conceivable shade of skin colour to avoid being labelled Nigel Farage - engaging in activities that have little or nothing to do with the car. Throw in some figures at the end on how you can take out a PCP deal for 30p a year with an optional final payment of a million pounds... et voila! A big steaming pile of advert.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you all that airing a boring, forgettable advert is bad business, because that’s just common sense, is it not? Come on Suzuki, Kia and others (the list is long, and by no means excludes those who have also made great adverts - Peugeot’s “Just Add Fuel” campaign, anyone?) We are here looking for our next set of wheels, with thousands of pounds lining our pockets. You want to see the money? Then get off your arse and wow us.