Since the advent of the medium, advertising has been an integral part of television, often ranking as high or higher in importance and memorability as the actual programming itself. For non-sports aficionados, the commercials are often as big an attraction of the Super Bowl as the game itself, and often remembered years later, long after the actual teams that played are only remembered by die-hard fans, or looked up on Google.
The One Club, an organization comprised of creative professionals in the advertising industry, has compiled its top 10 list of the best car commercials of the past 25 years. While there are several Super Bowl ads on the list, there are also several non-U.S. ads that were so impactful, that they were recognized by the judges for their importance. Check out the videos below.
10. Jeep Snow-Covered
Bozell Worldwide/Southfield, 1994
A combination of real footage gathered in Wyoming, Canada and Colorado, as well as computer animation, this ad sought to capture Jeep’s legendary all-weather capability in showing high-speed snow burrowing. We’re not even totally sure it’s a vehicle until we see the glow of taillights and turn signals through the show at a snow-covered stop sign.
9. Volkswagen Pink Moon
Arnold Worldwide/Boston, 1999
This simple, thematic commercial made the top 10 list for its minimalistic, dramatic footage, and use of music. Originally intended to use The Church’s “Milky Way” as the soundtrack, late artist Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” was ultimately selected. Although Drake died in 1974, sales of his album went from 6000 to 74,000 following the posting of a link to purchase it on Volkswagen’s Web site.
8. Volkswagen Polo Pole Padding
BMP DDB, 1998
One of the simplest ads on this list, this commercial consists of a couple of chaps putting up a poster, and puzzlingly, at first, wrapping a streetlight pole with padding. The purpose of the ad was to change British consumers’ perceptions of Volkswagen as being a more expensive brand. The padding was ostensibly installed to protect gawking customers’ astonishment at the VW Polo’s low price.
7. Nissan “Toys”
Nearly all of us that came of age in the 1990s remember this classic, set to Van Halen’s “You Really Got Me.” A toy Nissan 300 ZX is driven by an adventurous-looking male doll from a boy’s room to a Barbie mansion in a girl’s room. A brunette female doll comes out to the balcony in a tennis outfit, and moments later comes down in a sexy dress with her hair down? Where’s Ken, you ask? Standing at the balcony as the Indiana Jones-type character drives off with brunette Barbie.
6. Chrysler “Born of Fire”
One of the more recent ads on this list, many attribute the Chrysler “Born of Fire” ad to supercharging sales of the otherwise rather unremarkable Chrysler 200 midsize sedan, which was a heavily-updated version of the critically-panned Chrysler Sebring sedan. Set to the stark, urban backdrop of Detroit, and ending with rap star Eminem, this commercial seared the image of the revitalized Chrysler into the minds of millions of Americans.
5. Saturn “Sheetmetal”
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, 2002
The only ad from a now-defunct brand on this list, the minimalistic ad showing people walking and jogging on roadways was meant to emphasize Saturn’s focus on people rather than the machine. At the end, the still plastic-bodied Ion and Vue stand next to the metal-bodied L-series, a re-badged Opel Vectra, showing the transition that had taken place in the Saturn lineup from truly unique models to re-badges of mainstream General Motors products.
4. BMW Performance Series
In 2001, BMW commissioned a series of action-packed short films, all starring British actor Clive Owen. The approximately 10-minute long short films featured the work of a variety of directors and actors, even including Madonna. The series is characterized by action-packed driving, plenty of jumps and drifts, and of course, gratuitous explosions and crashes.
3. Volkswagen “The Force”
Debuting at the 2011 Super Bowl, “The Force” featured a pint-sized Darth Vader trying to use his powers to manipulate the 2011 Volkswagen Passat. The young Vader is surprised when the car finally starts at his bequest, highlighting the new Passat’s remote-start option. Although not quite “Gangnam Style,” “The Force” ranks as one of the most-watched commercials on YouTube since its debut.
2. Honda “Cog”
Weiden+Kennedy UK, 2003
Although creative for its simple, clever Rube Goldberg theme, the most remarkable thing about Honda’s “Cog” commercial was that it was filmed in a single take. The ad consists of dozens of disassembled components of the then-new European-market 2003 Honda Accord (sold in the U.S. as the Acura TSX) working in sequence to close the tailgate of an Accord wagon.
Weiden+Kennedy UK, 2004
Another European Honda commercial, also produced by Weiden+Kennedy, “Hate Something, Change Something” is based on the reported quote of Honda engineer Kenichi Nagahiro saying he “hated” diesels. Ironically, Nagahiro was put in charge of developing Honda’s new i-DCTi next-generation clean diesels for the European market. Honda commissioned American TV personality Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame to do the voice talent, and sing the jingle.
Source: The One Club