By on June 30, 2017

Mazda Driver's Choice YouTube Screenshot - Image: Mazda YouTube ChannelThey’ve haunted you in your sleep. “The lines down here are seamless, like classic German design,” a British fellow says about the new Chevrolet Malibu.

You overhear them during the morning news breaks as you walk to your gate at the airport. “Business in the front, party in the back,” a young woman says, describing the Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback.

“I am surprised that it’s Chevy,” a woman responds after being asked what she thinks about Bowtie victories in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study. You vomit a little in your mouth.

But in the eyes of General Motors, Chevrolet’s Real People, Not Actors campaign is working. And it appears Mazda thinks quite highly of the formula as well. (Read More…)

By on May 19, 2017

tom brady aston

The notion of American football being included in a non-pickup automotive advertisement is already ridiculous. I have nothing against the NFL personally. It has an exceptionally broad appeal, but it evokes a sort of blue-collar stars and stripes forever type of pride that makes it a superb platform to promote army recruitment and Ford’s F-150.

So, when I found out that Aston Martin — one of the most sophisticated brands in history — was making Tom Brady the face of its next advertising campaign, I was understandably upset. Not quite catching your girlfriend in the backseat of a Kia with your best friend upset, more like your dad telling you he’s starting an emo band upset. There’s an overwhelming sense of confusion and a pressing urge to do everything in your power to stop it from happening, because you know it’s all an egregious mistake and feel that — deep down — they must realize it, too.  (Read More…)

By on May 3, 2017

Ford EcoSport guardians of the galaxy ad

Advertising isn’t designed to help you make an informed purchasing decision. While some auto ads occasionally cherry pick information to highlight a vehicle’s strengths, you see this tactic employed less and less lately. Pathos-driving advertising sometimes results in innocuous gems, like Subaru’s “Dog Approved” campaign. However, there has been an obnoxious trend where cars, which are presumably for adults, are being marketed as if they are children’s toys.

One of the worst offenders of this phenomenon was Nissan. It tied the Rogue to the Star Wars franchise as much as possible — issuing television spots set in a galaxy far, far away, a special movie edition variant of the vehicle, crossover swag, and even a car modeled to look like an X-wing to display at trade events. It potentially worked, too — Rogue sales skyrocketed.

Taking notice, Ford has similarly decided to link the upcoming EcoSport to the new Guardians of the Galaxy film. The Blue Oval is taking that concept a step further, however. Its downright egregious marketing campaign feels like it belongs in the ad space reserved for Saturday morning cartoons, circa 1992, right next to a sugary breakfast cereal with a cartoon mascot. Ford has sweepstakes, comic books and a film cameo planned. (Read More…)

By on April 19, 2017

BMW CPO commercial Toyota Camry screenshot - Image: YouTube screenshot

Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.

“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.

The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.

On a mission to exalt its 3 Series in a certified pre-owned commercial, BMW sought to make fun of a typically bland midsize sedan. 2001 Chevrolet Malibu? 2006 Kia Optima? 2017 Subaru Legacy?

No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.

Hardly the work of a BFF. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

Honda Canada Utility Commercial: Image: Honda Canada/YouTube

Underneath its skin, the Honda Ridgeline is a significantly altered Honda Pilot, a large three-row utility vehicle related to the next-generation Honda Odyssey minivan. That’s hardly the stuff of which traditional, body-on-frame pickups are made.

But the Ridgeline has a separate, exposed bed, an elevated ride height, and competitive payload ratings. Therefore, it’s a pickup truck.

Or is it? In one recent Honda Canada commercial, the Ridgeline is portrayed alongside the HR-V, CR-V, and Pilot under the Honda Utility banner.

“Go where you wanna go,” The Mamas & the Papas sing, as a tree-lined bike trail appears with the CR-V in the HR-V’s rear seat, as a mountainside Pilot scene materializes in the CR-V’s cargo area, as the Ridgeline’s soccer setting unfolds from the Pilot’s third row.

Has Honda decided the Ridgeline is a sport-utility vehicle? A CUV? (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2016

 Kodiak became Kodiaq for one day

Call it a friendly occupation.

The Czech Škoda brand chose a tough-sounding name for its upcoming Kodiaq SUV, but the Alaskan town (and bear, and island) that inspired its name was left with one “k” too many.

Something had to change. So, the townsfolk went to work bringing the two names into line for one day only, as Škoda’s cameras rolled. (Read More…)

By on April 29, 2016

acura30

Acura is turning 30, and to celebrate, it’s turning its attention away from the yuppy Gen-Xers who first discovered the brand to the hopeful, car-buying Millennials of today.

It’s not pandering for vehicle sales, it’s a relationship, see?

Honda’s luxury marque just launched a marketing campaign that seems perfectly designed to lure in the largest-growing segment of car buyers. Called “30 Years Young,” the ad plays up Acura’s status as the leading luxury brand of this age demographic, while stroking the ego of the Millennial buyer. (Read More…)

By on April 9, 2016

Gaffigan Pacifica ad

Chrysler needed a pitchman who could rally a nation of parents around its all-important 2017 Pacifica minivan, so it called on Jim Gaffigan.

In a series of new commercials released by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the deadpan “everyman” stand-up comic talks up the Pacifica’s ability to improve one’s “dad brand.”

Gaffigan, known for refraining from profanity while practicing the time-honored art of observational humor, comes across as vaguely narcissistic and aloof in the ads, often forgetting the names of his own kids and watching video clips of himself on the Pacifica’s flip-up seatback monitors.

(Read More…)

By on May 27, 2015

Riley B. King, a blues musician who starred in a commercial launching the 2015 Toyota Corolla last year, passed away at the age of 89 last week in Las Vegas.

Wouldn’t it be terrible if that’s the way car enthusiasts looked at the world, solely through headlight shaped lenses, with things outside the automotive sphere only mattering when they interact somehow with cars?

(Read More…)

By on May 17, 2012

In 1999, you could still buy a brand-new Peugeot 504 in Argentina. With such a classic French automobile available, Renault’s marketers had to come up with an extra-special advertising gimmick to move those Clios off the lot. How about El Diablo? (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2012

The Junkyard Find ’79 Corona we saw earlier was a pretty nice car, but it was a regular sedan with an old-fashioned trunk. Just as Chevrolet buyers could buy a Nova with a hatchback in 1979, Toyota shoppers had the option of getting a Corona Liftback. Let’s tune into the old days of analog television and watch how Toyota USA’s marketers pitched this fine automobile. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2012

Murilee’s piece on the Acura Vigor brought back some fond memories for me involving that car, and an utterly bizarre bit of automotive trivia that was thought to be lost forever – a Japanese-market commercial for the Honda Vigor that features sexual deviancy (panty sniffing, anyone), Italian art house cinematography and the requisite badly-garbled English slogans.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2012

To Americans, there’s a weird mirror-world aspect to cars made by Detroit car companies in Australia; you can tell you’re looking at a GM product when you see an old Holden, for example, because you can usually spot a little Chevelle/Nova/Impala influence in the body lines, but everything just seems a little… off. Let’s watch the ’70 Holden line conquering the Outback and wowing the ladies. (Read More…)

By on February 5, 2011

Are you one of those who don’t watch the Super Bowl for the game, but for the ads? After taking mostly a leave of absence during carmageddon, carmakers will be out in force this time. There will be so many car commercials that “it looks like there will be auto gridlock in Super Bowl ads,” says USA Today. To get more impressions, carmakers are using YouTube to make the most out of the expensive airtime. Here comes a selection.
(Read More…)

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