Behind the Wheel

I’m so done with car commercials.

I still want to buy a Kia Soul because of these hamsters... (Source:

Don’t get me wrong…some car commercials are fresh and unique.  They are unfortunately few and far between.  But then, there are those that need to stop being made.

I’m not certain how all of you feel about this issue, but between cell phone and automobile advertising, there isn’t really much of anything else that people are trying to sell.  Oh sure…every once in a while an annoying Swiffer commercial will come on, or if you’re watching an American superchannel like Peachtree (or TBS…whatever Ted Turner…), there’s always the “why you need to go back to school to become a medical transcriptionist or massage therapist” commercials.  But it seems that despite how green is the new black, it seems that everyone wants you (yes, you!) to buy a shiny new automobile.  And they’re spending plenty of money to do that.

Perhaps I should have taken some courses in marketing when I went to university.  That might have helped me to understand why certain marketing departments feel the need to be so incessantly annoying.  So now, I feel the need for something…I feel the need to rant about some of the most obnoxious automobile advertising trends I’ve seen recently.

1.     Being “Feist-y”

It all began February 13, 1976…in a small town in Nova Scotia.  A baby girl was born, that would change the advertising industry as we know it.  Thirty one years later, little Leslie Feist was grown up and releasing an album known as The Reminder.  The release of this album heralded Feist’s work being purchased for use in a commercial for Apple’s third generation iPod Nano.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I like Feist.  She has a lovely voice that was seemingly unique…almost unheard of in the music industry.  And then came the car commercials.  And now everybody sounds breathy, a little throaty, and most decidedly indie.  They’re even remaking old songs to give them a Feist-y sound (I’m thinking of Lincoln here).  Unfortunately, this trend is not limited to the automobile industry and I’ve seen anything from fast food restaurants to cleaning products jumping on the Feist bandwagon.  Enough already…

2.     My car is greener than your car

The snark that these commercials are starting to display is getting to be nauseating.  Most automobile manufacturers have a hybrid model…or at the very least, a car that they claim is very efficient in its use of fuel.  This means that they also have a commercial where a car pulls into a gas station, slows near the pump (which of course also conveniently has a garbage can), and tosses a coffee cup into the trash can rather than stopping to fill up.  Oh, a hearty chuckle has been evoked.  Give me a break.  I get that the automobile industry has finally decided to start considering that perhaps spewing excess amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere might not be a good idea – and that’s great.  But perhaps they shouldn’t be so holier-than-thou about it.  After all, that’s what causes smug alerts.

The most recent campaign by Hyundai has been reducing their carbon footprint to nil in order to shoot the commercials.  This is a nice attempt at minimizing environmental impacts to sell your products, but it still reeks of pretentiousness.  And frankly, the I’m better than you because I drive a hybrid attitude has got to go.

3.     Synchronization

I am pretty certain that Hyundai is the worst for these types of commercials.  Although, it’s usually the luxury cars that you see synchronized driving/parking/weaving through the highways of life.  Ugh.  The Hyundai Sonata commercial that ends with an overhead view of black and white cars arranged like a piano keyboard?  The Volkswagen Rabbits where little black and white “Rabbits” flitted here and there throughout the cityscape?

4.     Using and re-using classic rock “car” songs

If I hear “Magic Carpet Ride”, “Born To Be Wild” or “You Really Got Me” in one more car campaign, I might just have to throw a sock at the tv.  Ask Ian.  I throw socks at the tv a lot.  It’s better than for instance, throwing a shoe.  “Free Ride” and “Go Your Own Way” have also been done to death and should never be used for another ad campaign again.  And I mean any ad campaign, not just for selling a car.  “Bad To The Bone” and “Wild Thing” are also in this category.  Oh, and car ad execs?  I hereby declare this as full warning that you should not use another song by The Who in your ad campaigns from this day forward.  I have also issued this warning to the creators of the various incarnations of CSI – you are ruining good music by ramming it down my throat in syndication.

Having said all that, if “Kickstart My Heart” was being used to sell a car, I might just fall for that one.

5.     Catchphrases

Zoom-zoom.  Nuff said.  Mazda…this campaign feels like it’s been around for at least a decade and it needs to die.  Seriously.


Feel the wrath of my MS Paint graffiti! (Source: Modified from

Bonus:  The gifted car

Don’t you just love the look on your significant other’s face when he or she opens the front door on Christmas morning…walks towards the driveway and sees the huge red bow on top of the brand new Lexus?  Yeah…me neither.  Cuz it just doesn’t happen.  I don’t know who these people are that can gift a car to their family member for Christmas, but is it really worth running an entire ad campaign around every holiday season?  It can’t be a huge amount of the car buying population that are actually purchasing cars as gifts for others.  So let’s be realistic…around Christmas time, you don’t need a car for a gift…you need a car so you can drive to Wal-Mart to buy crappy gifts.

What car campaigns have driven you around the bend?  (Didja like how I worked that pun in here?)


14 thoughts on “Behind the Wheel

  1. Wow. It’s different in the USA – I think. Right now, it is campaign commercials 24/7. We do get that stupid zoom zoom and and the lexus “season to remember” crap. But I mostly watch sports, and those commercials are usually for beer or erectile dysfunction pills. I remember about 4-5 years ago seeing plenty of car, er, truck commercials. They didn’t market cars around here back then, only trucks. The sales pitch went something like, “do you feel subconscious about the size of your penis? Then buy this big truck so you can haul around a railroad car full of cinder blocks up a giant steel ramp poised on the edge of a canyon while natural gas flames kiss your paint job!”

    I guess none of that advertising works on me, though, because I have been driving the same car for 14 years.

    • Yeah…that sounds about right for the truck commercials. Usually some really raspy voiced announcer or Denis Leary narrating…and they ALWAYS show the cinder blocks and ridiculous ramps on canyon edges…

      We have a lot of American stations, so we see the campaign ads too. It’s getting pretty nasty up in New England as far as I can tell…

  2. The commercials for the dealers here drive me nuts. The formula here seems to be that you must have a female relative – wife, daughter, granddaughter do all the ads for your dealership.

    Apparently car dealers believe women don’t exist outside of their families and I will come and buy from them to gaze upon the one they have.

    • When I lived back in Niagara, we used to get all the Western NY dealer ads…they were horrible. Most of the dealerships seem to be owned by Italian families (at least their names suggest it), and there’s always the typical greasy used car dealer doing the ad – with his “The Godfather” styled older relative. Awesome.

  3. C’mon. You don’t like car commercial “testimonials” from paid actors? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the same actor(s) in several different car company commercials.

    Whores. ;p

    • Yeah, Kia has some fantastic commercials. They must have a really creative bunch doing their marketing. In fact, I used to drive a Kia Rio…great little car. They sure have improved since they first really started making their mark in North America.

  4. Mazda’s “Zoom Zoom” tag line sounds downright stupid…to me at least. Haha.
    I love that first photo on this post though.

    I hope you’d see good car commercials soon.
    Nice post!

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