Category: Advertising

By on February 3, 2019

Wipe that wing sauce and queso off of your chin. And put a coaster under that beer! It’s time for the Super Bowl – and, for those of you without any rooting interest whatsoever in either team, it’s time for Super Bowl commercials!

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By on February 1, 2019

It’s time for that great celebration of Americana — the fifty-third Super Bowl. Sunday night, Patriots fans and Patriots haters will come together to watch the season’s championship game, against… a team from Los Angeles? Am I reading that right?

For the rest of us, the Super Bowl is basically a better Thanksgiving. Gorging oneself is expected, of course, but there are fewer awkward conversations with the great-grandmother or that weird racist uncle. And we get to watch TV.

Yeah, for me, the commercials are the best part. It’s an opportunity to celebrate excellence in short-form storytelling — while selling something. Like each of the last several years, I’ll be watching the game with my laptop in my, well, lap, updating a post every time a new car commercial appears. However, many of those commercials have already been teased or released outright prior to the game, and that’s where this preview comes in.

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By on January 18, 2019

In a rare victory for television, General Motors was forced to pull one of its obnoxious “Real People” ads earlier this week after Ford, Toyota, and Honda cried foul over its claims. If you missed our earlier coverage, the gist was that GM stated Chevrolet was the more dependable brand by surprising rival owners — who were definitely not paid actors — with totally reliable data…

One of the biggest problems with the spot was that the reliability-related praise heaped on Chevrolet’s vehicles was, in many cases, supported by data obtained from previous-generation vehicles. That gave the annoyed automakers solid footing to call the commercial misleading and deploy their lawyers. Earlier this month, GM’s legal team was sent a letter demanding the company stop making the reliability claims in its television campaign and was given until January 14th to respond to the demands.

General Motors ultimately responded by saying the ad had already stopped airing nationally and that it would be removed from local markets in the coming weeks. It noted that it stood by the claims. Then, earlier today, it also removed the commercial from the internet.  Read More >

By on November 7, 2018

2018 Nissan LEAF SL

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), like the fictional “phone cops” of WKRP fame, seem to be everywhere in that country, keeping tabs on everyone’s every move. As we told you last month, in the UK, commercials are not even allowed to show frustrated office workers getting behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, even if they’re shown driving sedately once the car leaves the garage. Dangerous influences lurk everywhere.

Britain’s ad cops are at it again, only this time there’s some meat on the bones of the complaint. Automakers often play fast and loose when it comes to describing the capabilities of autonomous vehicle functions, but electric vehicles are another area fraught with potential misleading info. Throw pricing and fuel economy into that group, too. Nissan recently ran afoul of ASA watchdogs after one of its ads suggested owners could partly recharge their vehicles in a hurry. Of course, this is technically a true statement.

What resulted was essentially a battle over the word “could.” Read More >

By on October 18, 2018

2018 Chrysler Pacifica S Appearance Package, Image: FCA

Of all the automakers embroiled in the Mad Men-era rush to plumb the psyches of American car buyers, Chrysler’s Dodge division stood head and shoulders above the rest in one key marketing element: sex. It sells, apparently, and Chrysler Corp. made sure to instill a little bit of it, overtly or subconsciously, into its print and TV advertising. As the circa ’66-67 “Dodge Rebellion” campaign gave way to 1968-70’s “Dodge Fever” gambit, the impact of the counterculture movement and America’s rapidly liberalizing attitudes soon became apparent in Dodge’s ad copy.

It was this era in Chrysler’s marketing history that spawned what’s arguably the most sexist (and psychosexual) car ad ever printed: Dodge’s 1969 Charger R/T ad, titled “The Eternal Triangle.”

These were sexy times for America, but even sexier times for Dodge, which had clearly grown too hot under the collar. The onset of the 1970s saw the brand put the tie-dyed shirt and address book in storage, trading its hedonistic copy for the far tamer “Dodge Material” campaign, and the rest is history (some of it quite embarrassing). Given this rich marketing heritage, it’s nice to see Chrysler attempt to spice up a family-oriented minivan with sex. Read More >

By on August 17, 2018

Toyota/Youtube

If it wasn’t for celebrity ad appearances, I wouldn’t know that Jim Rockford James Garner thinks the Mazda 626 is a great buy, or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling chooses the Ford LTD over all other domestic two-door hardtops, simply for the cabin noise level. Meanwhile, red-blooded males across America still can’t shake those recurring thoughts of the Mercury Milan AWD V6.

We owe a great debt to Hollywood.

And Toyota now owes a big, fat check to Chuck Norris, a 78-year-old man famous for driving a Dodge Ram pickup in a show where violent men routinely and inexplicably dropped their guns in order to engage each other with fists. The automaker gets playful in its latest spot for a truck it can’t help but sell boatloads of. Read More >

By on July 23, 2018

Honda has launched a new media campaign for the Insight, a model that stages its third reappearance for the 2019 model year. The media push frames other hybrids as ugly, boring vehicles you have to settle for in order to gain superior fuel economy. There’s a social media initiative that transforms everyday objects into something more interesting and a television spot where other vehicles mill around while covered in bubble letters that spell out “blah” or “meh,” with horns and engine noises to match.

But the whole ad seems counterintuitive. The Insight ditched its funky wheel coverings after the first generation, which was followed by the loss of the glass-back hatch. Now it’s a pretty normal looking vehicle. You might even mistake it for a miniature Honda Accord.

That’s not an insult; the Accord isn’t a bad looking vehicle, but it also blends in easily with traffic. A large part of that is due to its popularity, but it still calls into question the whole premise of the ad — which serves to portray other hybrids as mundane.  Read More >

By on July 14, 2018

Having released the pint-sized Kicks crossover into the North American market last month, Nissan needed marketing material to help boost visibility. Normally, car ads are platitudinous, offering little in the way of novelty to get us truly excited. The reason for this is because trying something different can result in an overwhelmingly bizarre experience. Kia’s reverse aging of Steven Tyler inside the Stinger GT is a prime example. It was the wrong rockstar for its target demographic and left us scratching our heads.

Other automakers allow marketing companies to pilot the brand into weird abstractions where they aren’t selling a car so much as an identity. Cadillac stumbled into trouble with this a few years ago, leaning into a more product-based advertising strategy ever since.

So what of the Kicks? The vehicle is clearly aimed at trendy youngsters seeking a good deal and some style. Will its ads cater to them, offering something vaguely informational, or will it be another televised dudRead More >

By on April 4, 2018

Mazda’s new “Feel Alive” advertising campaign places consumers as its focal point as the company tries to market itself as an upscale and hip, enthusiast-oriented brand. On Monday, Mazda launched the first commercial — a borderline insulting collection of superficial phrases intended to get you excited about the brand’s new identity.

The spot itself is about as boilerplate new-millennium luxury car commercial as it gets. It opens with a series of attractive actors, all on the cusp of an important moment, as the narrator offers bizarrely simplistic lines of encouragement like “do that thing” and “take that step.” Granted, auto ads became far getting far less chatty about specs during the 1990s. But, over the last decade, too many car spots seem to be copying perfume ads — strange adventures in abstraction that say nothing about the product and cost a fortune to produce. Read More >

By on March 13, 2018

Humanizing animals is the easiest way to help kids sympathize with the plight of small, cuddly forest creatures, and thus the easiest way to turn them into staunch environmentalists. People do this because it works. It’s easy, and it sticks. How many non-hunters picture Bambi’s ill-fated mother when they consider taking up the outdoorsman life? Probably quite a few.

In the auto realm, humanization of cars is mainly the domain of Disney and Pixar and schlocky horror directors. Movies like The Love Bug, CarsChristine, and The Car appeal to very different audiences, but they all succeed in humanizing their subjects to some degree. A car can be a living thing, menacing or cute, cuddly or lethal, if deep-pocketed filmmakers or marketing types desire it. We can even put ourselves in the shoes (brake shoes?) of a car.

Well, those deep-pocketed people have now humanized the Jeep Wrangler. It was born. It lives. It has a voice. But does it speak to you? Read More >

By on March 2, 2018

Cadillac is showing off the upcoming XT4 before its official debut at the 2018 New York International Auto Show by tossing it into a handful of commercials scheduled during the 90th Academy Awards. While the television spots seem to be intended to whet appetites prior to the vehicle’s launch later this fall, it’s the best look we’ve had at the model to date. That said, careful lighting and smoke machines allowed the XT4 to show plenty of leg without unbuckling its belt and giving us a real show.

The overall design is on par with what we’ve come to expect from present-day Cadillac, with vertical headlights cutting deeply into the front fenders. However, it looks to be a more shapely SUV than everything else the brand currently offers. Styling was clearly a priority here, and every element that identifies a model as a Cadillac appears to have been exaggerated without going too far.  Read More >

By on February 16, 2018

2017 Nissan Rogue SL - Image: Nissan

It’s not fair to say there’s no truth in advertising; commercials often show vehicles driving in a straight line down a dry road, and we all know they can do that. Only the most gullible among us thinks a new muscle car will improve their love life faster than Billy Dee Williams can crack open a can of Colt 45.

All too often, smokin’ deals do not await shoppers who leave the house without reading the fine print. And even that fine print can hide whether you’re actually getting a bargain. With President’s Day coming up on Monday, here’s a few examples of juicy car promotions that are sure to waste someone’s time. Read More >

By on February 6, 2018

Image: FCA

Far be it for us to suggest ulterior motives in an automaker’s marketing strategy (!). Unless you’re living in a primitive earthen hut with no electricity and using a rocky coastline as a latrine, you’ve no doubt heard of the hubbub surrounding Ram’s Super Bowl ad, which placed images of hard-working Americans alongside the words of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

Oh, and there was a 2019 Ram 1500 in there, too, working hard, as Rams are known to do.

By the time a dejected Tom Brady flew out of Minneapolis in his fashionable dress coat, collar popped, Fiat Chrysler’s “Built to Serve” ad had the Twitterati spinning on the floor, foaming at the mouth. A controversy was born. But is this a rare example of the target of online scorn…winning? Read More >

By on February 5, 2018

mercedes-benz logo

Automotive advertising and the Super Bowl are intrinsically linked. Car spots populate the commercial breaks, the most valuable player gets a free truck, and there is usually a contest or two sponsored by a major manufacturer. This year, Mercedes-Benz had a rather clever idea: to create a digital version of the hand-on game where the last participant to break physical contact with a vehicle (usually a Hyundai) gets to take it home.

Scheduled to coincide with kick-off, contestants would keep their fingers planted on their phones for the duration of the game for the chance to win a brand new Mercedes-AMG C43. The last person to allow their digit to stray from the moving photo would be awarded the car. But there was a problem — too many people tried to play the Mercedes-Benz Last Fan Standing game and it immediately crashed.

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By on February 4, 2018

It’s time.

The Super Bowl LII automotive commercials are upon us.

I’ll be posting them below the jump, in reverse chronological order from their appearance. Keep refreshing your page to see the latest!

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