The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Why Car Ads Are Killing The Car Category …

I wrote about an old car ad recently, but I recently saw another one that reinforced how far that category of advertising has fallen over the years.

Look at it.



Full of charm and character.

Pretty much sums up the 2CV.

When was the last time you saw a car ad like that?

Hell, when was the last time you saw any car ad that made you give a shit, fullstop?

Sure there’s Wieden’s – and one of my absolute faves – Born of Fire for Chrysler and BBH’s wonderful Audi Clowns … but they are the absolute exception in a World dominated with ‘aspirational lifestyle’ imagery, topped with a bland, meaningless version of Just Do It as an endline.

It’s so sad because cars offer so much more than status and lifestyle.

And yet, that seems to be all car manufacturers want to spout – which is weird for a whole host of reasons.

One is that the future of the category is under severe threat by a generation who not only favour other options, but are increasingly not even bothering to learn to drive.

Second is the World is waking up to the environmental damage cars do and yet the infrastructure for the alternative – electric vehicles – is still insanely poor.

Finally is the fact that companies are actively pushing to lower salaries and full-time staff while increasing zero hour contracts, so who the hell do they think will be able to afford the cars they make anyway?

All in all, the category is crying out for someone who will disrupt the industry.

From ownership to running costs to marketing and everything in-between.

There’s a couple of companies exploring the possibilities … Volvo in particular are being pragmatic in these spaces … but even that might not be enough when the car manufacturers talk to the same [old] people, in the same places, with the same premise.

The last time I saw a long term brand idea for a car manufacturer that genuinely injected freshness and authenticity into the category through their work was Crispin’s ‘Mini’ … and that was back in 2002!!!

So while I hate looking backward and think most of the industries problems are because they are obsessed with ‘progressing’ through the rear view mirror, where car ads are concerned, they might do themselves a favour if they chose reverse gear.

21 Comments so far
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Why have the post times changed? I thought there was nothing happening and then this. What’s happening?

Comment by Bazza

We demand an explanation Robert. I was about to go to sleep bed when I got a notification a post had happened. Are you trying to freeze out the West Coast followers?

Comment by George

Why are you complaining, aren’t you supposed to be happy?

Actually I don’t know why they’re posting later. I must have done it which means we have categorical proof I am losing my mind.

I’ll check how many more posts I’d done this to.

Comment by Rob

For some reason all the posts this week are for 7am. I have no idea why – everything else is the usual – so I’m going keep it as it is and you can relax in the knowledge the post is coming … albeit later than normal. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

Well you are doing an excellent job of killing off the few commentators you have left. Good job.

Comment by George

So much for media planning.

Comment by John

he couldnt plan his way out of a box with a fuckng map, gps unit and a piece of fucking string.

Comment by andy@cynic

Did the 2CV stop Citroen from being taken seriously as a modern car manufacturer? Discuss.

Comment by Bazza

Didn’t affect VW. Though German cars do have the benefit of the cultural stereotype of precision and reliability.

Comment by George

Are they not taken seriously?

Maybe not in making supercars but in everyday cars?

They’re not my first choice but they’re not a joke. At least for me.

Comment by Rob

I don’t like the ad. It’s using borrowed interest to say it has nothing going for it than price.

Comment by Bazza

It may not look it, but the 2CV was as an engineering marvel. Easily on par with the VW Beetle but never given the same respect. I agree, this ad is about stealing others attention rather than celebrating its own benefits. And yet it is still better than most car ads today.

Comment by George

I know it doesn’t say much about itself other than price but it’s done with fun and charm and the cars it’s aligning itself with are so ridiculous to be compared to, it would not make anyone think they are being serious.

Did I catch you on a bad day?

Comment by Rob

I hope you are referring to Baz rather than me. I like the ad.

Comment by George

I’m an equal opportunity insulter … you should know that by now.

Comment by Rob

I actually think it says a lot about the 2CV, or at least the 2CV buyers – basically self confident folks who don’t have to try too hard. Of course, I’ve no idea if that was compelling back then, but I bet it would be now
I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the UK Honda stuff from a few years back Rob, probably the best example of how you can make reliable engineering compelling rather than dull. Still the benchmark in car stuff for me
Especially since nearly idea managed to have features and benefits at the centre

Comment by Northern

You say confident buyers. I say vicars or pervs. Are they different?

Comment by DH

Honda was good. Better than this. At least cog and choir. Then it went a bit up itself. Probably when Rob worked on it.

Comment by DH

Ha … I didn’t do Honda in the UK, just Asia.

It was fun too.

The books we did were amazing as well.

Comment by Rob

no, you were too fucking busy trying to get nike to build a car. sad twar.

Comment by andy@cynic

Reminds me of the tone of the Yaris “It’s a car” campaign from a decade or so ago. I love that campaign.

Comment by Another Chris

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