Many car adverts in the past may have led you to think “What the Hell?” But surely these days people are more refined, more sensitive. However, controversial car adverts are not a thing of the past. In 2020 a commercial feature a black man being flicked by a giant hand (thanks to a perspective trick). It’s a bit confusing to why they thought the advert was okay.
Why do Car Ads Bring out the worst?
Could the reason be that so many car commercials that agencies are given full reign? It could explain recent sales tactics of showing a car in a huge shopping cart.
Starting in the 60’s car ads have drawn some of the oddest ideas for advertisements. Why else did a Ford Focus advert in the 1960’s use the Peanuts characters? One doesn’t think of luxury when they think of Peanuts. It might have given the comic strip some exposure, but what did Ford think they were gaining?
Let’s look at individual campaigns. No one today would ever say, “Women are soft and gentle but they hit things” in a car advert today. However, this was one of the less successful adverts in the 60’s saying that the parts are easily replaceable, so it doesn’t matter if she breaks them.
The difficulty was that all car adverts at the time seemed to be aimed at men. Indeed, until women had disposable income (which is later than you think) there was no reason to market cars at women at all, sad to say.
Nearly everyone knows the Delorean failed but most people don’t know it was advertised by a picture of the vehicle over an image of two whisky glasses clicking. It is of little wonder that drink hasn’t featured in any car advert since. A total disaster.
A public display by Volvo involved one of their cars being driven towards a truck trailer by remote control. The idea was to highlight its safety level when the auto-brake system kicked in. This could have been a fantastic display only the autobrakes didn’t kick in, the car hit the trailer.
In Spain, large numbers of women received letters with phrases like “You were looking at me funny yesterday.” It turns out that it was meant to have been written by a car. However, it wasn’t clear it was an advert and women felt as if they were being stalked, because evidently the idea that a car has written you a note isn’t the first thing most females think of.
A strange way to advertise a Toyota pickup was getting potential owners to undergo a selection process, which involved eating hot pies at a service station (slightly possible) or moving.sheep away from an electric fence (less possible). This was an Australian campaign which may explain the questioning.
The Lexus IS was compared to a ballerina. A Fiat ad had people running after a car which had Jennifer Lopez in it. Okay, some reasoning here, but not much.
No wonder many commercials prefer a car driving along an empty road in black and white with good music. A bit safe but it has the plus point that the customer sees the car more or less as it is. People always require a good-looking car which seems to handle the road comfortably – why overcomplicate things?