10 Car Commercials That Actually Worked
The song Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix swells in the background, belted out by a string quartet. “For lunch, a Porsche 944 Turbo generally prefers Ferraris, though occasionally, it’s been known to snack on Corvettes…” as a red 944 Turbo slides across the screen in slow motion.
And now you want a Porsche 944 Turbo.
It’s far from the only example of a great ad, and we could fill this website every day with examples to prove our point. What makes a great commercial? With the benefit of hindsight, we think that commercials featuring a real depiction of a vehicle’s character are best, while answering the following: Why is this car here? What can it do? Why do I want it?
Here are some of our favorites.
Yeah, it’s nearly 10 minutes long. But the BMW Z4 looks pretty great when piloted by Clive Owen—with James Brown in the passenger seat—as they face off against the devil.
An Audi CS quattro lines up at the bottom of a seemingly impossible obstacle: a ski jump. A dramatic demonstration of the company’s quattro technology, and a commercial that no doubt sent many people to showrooms.
“For lunch, a Porsche 944 Turbo generally prefers Ferraris, though occasionally, it’s been known to snack on Corvettes…” is the expression of Porsche’s naughty side. The 911 commercial on the right, however, may bring the sentimental among us to tears.
“DEMAND THE MCCOY!” the announcer says, before ending with a tag line to end all tag lines: “You only get one shot at life!” The message? Buy a Triumph TR4A and experience a real sports car!
Sometimes, whimsy can work: but it helps if your products are as good as the Volkswagen Beetle, Citroën 2CV and BMC Mini. One thing’s clear: these cars aren’t like the others.
Honda is perhaps the one car company that often manages to make us want its cars without actually showing much of its cars! The Japanese company has been known to create media as tribute to greats like Ayrton Senna, as well as attack a challenge that is filmed to use in an ad—the company once made a “singing road” for this purpose.
On the left, an ingenious commercial that must be the reason we invented 3D rendering technology…In it, Honda manages to touch on just about every aspect of its business in less than two minutes—two minutes we’ve re-watched at least a dozen times! On the right, a lap of Ayrton Senna at Suzuka from 1989 is recreated in realtime, at the track, using lights, engine sounds, and a huge amount of brainpower to make it all work. Gives you chills? Us, too.
Has a car commercial inspired you to lust after or buy a car?