The Booth Babe Chronicles: The Song And Dance Of Car Commercials

Music and scents. That’s what surrounds me during my work at car shows. The music tries to drown out the display next door. The ladies, gentlemen, even the cars in the booth are carefully perfumed. (There are other scents … but let’s not go there.) Nothing evokes a greater emotional response than music and scents. Retail establishments have figured out how to get to you via your nose and ears for years. Until Smell-O-Vision is actually rolled out, TV advertising has to be content with the music side of things. Luckily, most auto manufacturers know exactly how to push our buttons with a great tune. Here are some of my personal faves.

(Double play bonus: Clicking on the song title gets you to the original song – except for one.)

This commercial for the Cadillac SRX didn’t make me go out and buy a crossover, but it did make me get on iTunes and download the Phoenix album. It’s so good that one YouTube commenter said, “This car should come with the song pre-installed in it. Why? So you can drive down the road pretending your [sic] in the commercial.”

“1901” by Phoenix

VW has a huge hard-on for Wilco, as evidenced by no less than five songs used in their commercials (and I don’t think that count is accurate; it is definitely not less but could be more). In fact, the band and VW used the album Sky Blue as a joint marketing effort in 2007 as means to their own ends.

“Sky Blue Sky” by Wilco

I swear I’m not a shill for Lincoln (I don’t even rep them at the auto show) but they have blown my mind with this space ship ad campaign. Eye-catching images and haunting music make you feel like maybe you, a person who is or still feels like they should be in their late 20’s, should run out and buy a traditionally grandpa-ish vehicle because the music is just that cool.


“Burning for You” by Shiny Toy Guns

“Major Tom (Coming Home)” by Shiny Toy Guns

(ED: Did you know that the soundtrack is a German import? Major Tom (völlig losgelöst) by Peter Schilling became a hit in Germany in 1983, a year later it was released in the USA as Major Tom (coming home) by the same artist. The German version is still a hit in certain European clubs where people go on trips into other galaxies … nuff said.)

“Under the Milky Way” by Sia

“High Roller” by The Crystal Method (Get it? Get it?)

And for LOLS…

Freakin’ Kia and their hilarious hamsters… So much better than the alternative. They’re kickin’ it old school in this Soul commercial.

“This or That” by Black Sheep

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  • Inside Looking Out Cadillac now associates with rap music. In the past it was all about rock'n'roll. Rap is environmentally friendlier than rock'n'roll.
  • EBFlex This is nothing compared to what Ford is doing. The fake lightning is seeing massive price increases for 2023. Remember how they self pleasured themselves about the fake lightning starting under $40k? In 2023, the price jumps by a very Tesla like $7,000. And that’s not the biggest price jump. And much less talked about, the government fleet discounts are going away. So for a basic 3.3L Explorer, the price is jumping $8,500. S basic F150 is also now $8,500 more. Im sure the same people that complained about the oil companies making “obscene profits” will say the same thing about Ford.
  • Bobbysirhan Sometimes it seems like GM has accepted that the customers they still have are never going to come to their senses and that there aren't any new dupes on the horizon, so they might as well milk their existing cows harder.
  • Buickman how about LowIQ?
  • Gemcitytm Corey: As a native SW Ohioan, Powel Crosley, Jr. has always been an object of fascination for me. While you're correct that he wanted most of all to build cars, the story of the company he created with his brother Lewis, The Crosley Corporation, is totally fascinating. In the early 20's, Crosley was the nation's leading manufacturer of radio receivers. In the 1930's, working from an idea brought to him by one of his engineers, Crosley pioneered the first refrigerator with shelves in the door (called, of course, the "Shelvador"). He was the first to sell modular steel kitchen cabinets (made for him by Auburn in Connersville). He brought out the "IcyBall" which was a non-electric refrigerator. He also pioneered in radio broadcasting with WLW Radio in Cincinnati (wags said the calls stood for either "Whole Lotta Watts" or "World's Lowest Wages"). WLW was one of the first 50,000 watt AM stations and in 1934, began transmitting with 500,000 watts - the most powerful station in the world, which Mr. Crosley dubbed "The Nation's Station". Crosley was early into TV as well. The reason the Crosley operation died was because Mr. Crosley sold the company in 1945 to the AVCO Corporation, which had no idea how to market consumer goods. Crosley radios and TVs were always built "to a price" and the price was low. But AVCO made the products too cheaply and their styling was a bit off the wall in some cases. The major parts of the Crosley empire died in 1957 when AVCO pulled the plug. For the full story of Crosley, read "Crosley: Two Brothers and a Business Empire That Transformed the Nation" by Rutsy McClure (a grandson of Lewis Crosley), David Stern and Michael A. Banks, Cincinnati: Clerisy Press, ISBN-13: 978-1-57860-291-9.