QOTD: Can Hollywood Sell You a Car?

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
qotd can hollywood sell you a car

Ages ago, we asked about your favorite car-related marketing campaign. Your answers were varied as they were well-thought out – Nissan’s toy 300ZX, Iacocca daring us to find a better car, and VW’s Star Wars ad.

Absent from all of the above? Celebrity endorsements… unless you count Ken & Barbie in the Z ad. This time around, we’re asking you what’s the most memorable car ad (for better or worse) featuring someone straight out of central casting?

For sheer impact, I’ve got to point towards VW and one of the many instalments in their fantastically self-deprecating “Think Small” campaign. Sure, the Lemon and Live Below Your Means ads made for fantastic copy; showing a towering basketball player next to a funny-looking import car must’ve taken more than a few animated conversations in smoky conference rooms.

Don’t limit your musings to American car ads featuring famous stars, either. In the late Eighties, smack-dab in the middle of Back to the Future II & III fever and right at the end of Family Ties, a youthful Michael J. Fox showed up in a Japanese-market ad for the 1989 Honda Integra.

Eighties music, inexplicable somersaults, and a dash of well-rehearsed Japanese? Super.

What’s your pick for a memorable car ad with a celebrity entering stage left? There’s one for sure I hope someone mentions; it’s for a domestic sedan — that’s all I’ll say.

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6 of 69 comments
  • Johnster Johnster on Oct 23, 2017

    When I was a kid I really liked the product placement by Chevrolet on the ABC network. In addition to featuring Chevrolets in the TV shows when a scene with a car was called for, they had the stars of various ABC TV shows peddle the merchandise in commercials. We saw the cast of "Bewitched," "The Man from UNCLE," and "Bonanza" pushing Chevrolets. On Youtube there's a commercial from 1965 where the stars of all three shows appear together with the then new Chevrolet lineup of vehicles. Later on, I remember Hoss Cartwright (Dan Blocker) pushint the new Chevy Cheyenne pickup truck in 1971 or maybe 1972. One of my favorites featured Abner Kravitz (George Tobias) calming down his nosy wife Gladys (Alice Pearce) and informing her that the tilt steering wheel in the Chevrolet Impala was no act of witchcraft, but a wonderful new optional feature that resulted from technology.

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Oct 23, 2017

      TONS of product placement on TV shows of the era...this could be a good QOTD. Jim Rockford's Firebird...all the Fords on "Charlie's Angels"...etc

  • I_like_stuff I_like_stuff on Oct 23, 2017

    When I learned LeBron drives a Kia (snort) I rushed out and bought one myself.

  • CarnotCycle CarnotCycle on Oct 23, 2017

    I'm sure its been mentioned already, but Ringo Starr shilling for "not your father's" Oldsmobiles is still just as vivid and tacky in memory as day I saw it twenty or whatever years ago.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Oct 23, 2017

      All of those Oldsmobile commercials were terrible except for Leonard Nimoy's (cause come on Spock). It did inspire Ray Stevens to sing "This IS your Daddy's Oldsmobile" (Don't it look good, don't it smell good, don't you love the way it feels?) Likely that campaign would have sold more Olds.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Oct 25, 2017

    If you're old enough, you remember the early days of TV when sponsors owned the shows - the networks couldn't produce content. As a result, the stars of the shows did the ads, like Phil Silvers selling Lucky Strike cigarettes, and Ed Wynn appearing in gasoline ads. (Just google the names) GM had a couple shows sponsored by Chevrolet, the Dinah Shore Chevy Show, and Bonanza. For product endorsement, you can't beat Dinah Shore singing the show's theme song, "See the USA in your Chevrolet..." unless it's the voice of Lorne Greene pronouncing MONNN-za.