There is never a shortage of car ads on TV, whether it’s to promote a second-hand buying business or to push the latest shiny model of a popular brand. Over the years car ads have become true fan favourites, even amongst non-petrolheads.
We’ve taken a look back at some of the best car TV ads, for a motorised trip down memory lane. Fasten your seatbelts…
Land Rover Defender, 1986
One surefire way to get people to buy your car is to show that it can take you pretty much anywhere. This classic Land Rover TV ad showed the four-wheel drive car easily scaling the side of a dam for a daring feat.
It was such a daring and memorable feat that Top Gear even attempted to recreate the stunt. Richard Hammond found that it wasn’t quite as easy as the ad made it look, however. The presenter had to be lowered back down the side of the dam once he made it up.
Renault, “Papa and Nicole”, 1991-1998
Renault Clio’s campaign starring Max Douchin and Estelle Skornik as Papa and Nicole really caught the nation’s imagination. So much so, that a poll found that Nicole was a more recognisable figure in the UK than John Major. The car TV ads also had a profound impact on public life and was later reinvented in part after researchers found that the name Nicole rose dramatically in popularity the year the first ad debuted.
The series, following a father and daughter’s relationship, culminated in a much-hyped finale in 1998 to reveal Nicole’s marriage – and chosen husband. True to form, the ad was a parody of The Graduate, and saw the stunning Nicole leave Vic Reeves at the altar in favour of his comedy partner Bob Mortimer.
Renault, “Va Va Voom”, 2002-2005
After the success of the “Nicole? Papa!” campaign, Renault again turned to celebrity star power in the early 2000s. The Thierry Henry advert campaign for Renault is a classic. According to Renault’s UK national advertising manager at the time the campaign was aimed at a male audience, to push the sporty image of the brand.
Watching the Arsenal legend explain “va va voom” certainly caught the nation’s attention, and the phrase was actually added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2004.
Volkswagen, “The Force”, 2012
Launched the same year George Lucas sold Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise to Disney, 2012’s “The Force” advert for Volkswagen became a firm favourite.
The advert shows a pint-sized Darth Vader marching through his house, attempting to harness the power of the force through Jedi mind power alone. Unable to summon the force to move furniture or a doll, he finally tries it on his father’s brand-new Volkswagen Passat, which emits an obedient roar. Of course, it seems as though this is because of the car’s powerful key control the father is pointing through the window, but that’s not the point…
Honda, “Impossible Dream”, 2005
Honda TV advert music has always been top quality, with inspirational tunes and cult favourite songs backing memorable car ads for years. 2010’s Impossible Dream, set to Andy William’s rendition of Impossible Dream (The Quest) shows a driver (played by actor Simon Paisley Day) on a journey with a series of vintage Honda vehicles – from a motorbike to classic cars to speedboats to the modern car.
The amazing landscapes shown in the panoramic advert include roads in New Zealand, the Iguazu Falls and the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan. The cinematic car ad was part of the Honda Power of Dreams campaign, designed to showcase the futuristic technology used in the Japanese brand’s cars.
Which car adverts drive you wild? Let us know in the comments!