By Stephen Markley on October 18, 2010
Now that we've announced that Cars.com will have two commercials at Super Bowl XLV, it got us wondering what the best car commercials on the air are right now. Is it just us or have there been some creative, undeniably effective new ads out this year?
Perhaps in a fractured media world — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube ... and TV — automakers have simply had to step up their advertising game, or maybe new products like the all-electric Nissan Leaf simply cry out for attention-grabbing marketing.
Whatever the reason, here are a few of the commercials we like in no particular order. Chime in with your favorites and give us grief for any that we missed.
1. Subaru: "Baby Driver"
It begins with a father telling his toddler daughter to be safe behind the wheel while giving her a checklist of driving do's and don'ts. Subaru's commercial captures parental anxiety in this age of text messages and constant distractions. Sure, we're laughing at the sight of a cute, nervous child actress, but then Subaru goes straight for the tear ducts at the end.
2. Nissan Leaf: "Polar Bear"
This ad pretty much touches all your environmental-guilt bases. Melting ice caps lead the most adorable polar bear in the Arctic on a journey where he marvels at a butterfly, befriends a raccoon (or eats him; after all what's he feeding on?) and embraces a Leaf owner for his purchase of the zero-emissions vehicle. While this polar bear seems to understand the peril of greenhouse-gas emissions warming the planet, he needs to work on his grasp of the U.S. energy portfolio: That Leaf is likely powered primarily by coal.
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee: "Wheelbase"
Touting a vehicle's wheelbase doesn't exactly sound like a surefire path to advertising gold, but this gravel-crunching, rock-ramping spot with just a dash of a Johnny Cash tune at the end pulls off the trick. Grand Cherokee sales testify that, at the very least, it gets the job done.
4. Volkswagen Jetta: "Split Second"
During a crash test, Volkswagen tells us that in the event of a collision you should cut the fuel line, unlock the doors and turn the hazard lights during the split second before impact. As we watch a man attempt to do all this, one feels as if an automaker should build a car with some kind of intelligent crash response syste-Oh, I gotcha.
5. Kia Soul: "The Arrival"
This ad is just simple math: The beautiful golfer Michelle Wie + strutting onto a golf course = attention paid. Targeting the youth gets a lot easier with the right spokesperson, and golf prodigy Wie makes a memorable match for Kia's econobox.
6. Honda Odyssey: "Rock Van"
The trend for selling minivans seems formulaic. Step 1: Acknowledge minivans are lame. Step 2: Explain that this minivan is sure as hell not lame. First, we had Toyota's "Swagger Wagon" spot for the 2011 Toyota Sienna and now this hair-metal-infused taste of the 2011 Honda Odyssey. Bonus points for a subliminal Jaguar.