Every now and then I find myself watching television and a new commercial comes on. I ignore most of them but once in a while a new one catches my attention. Maybe it takes a while — I have to watch it a few times before I realize it’s there. But once it gets into my system I can’t forget it. I’m sure you know what I mean. Some of these commercials are so haunting people spend years trying to learn more about them.
The commercial that has haunted me the most through the years, I think, is the Volkswagon Cabrio commercial that features four people riding through the night as Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” plays. The group arrives at some party, they all exchange looks, and then they drive off into the night. The road is more fun than their friends. This may be one of the all-time best commercials from American television.
Subaru made another commercial that captured my imagination. As with the Volkswagon commercial much of the Subaru commercial’s appeal is due to the music but whereas Volkswagon used a previously recorded song for its soundtrack Subaru seems to have commissioned an original song. This commercial is not as well-liked as the Volkswagon commercial. People like to nitpick it (for example, one commenter points out that the rain would not really clean off the car, and you can see that the car leaves no tracks in the circle of dirt at the end).
Mitsubishi ran a commercial for the Eclipse for a while that featured the song “Days Go By”, performed by Dirty Vegas. It’s a very techno-cool-smooth song. I felt a connection with the girl dancing in the car because I often do that myself. I remember visiting relatives in Florida one year when I took one of my nieces on a day trip. We were going down the highway and I was boogieing to my favorite songs. She was alternately laughing her head off and cringing.
“Uncle Mike! You’re embarrassing me!”
Yeah, right. So we pulled up to this stop signal and an older guy in a pickup truck pulled up beside us. He honked his horn and she rolled her window down. “Tell him he’s having too much fun!” the guy shouted at her.
Okay, so here’s a tip to you older guys: Don’t honk at young girls in cars with their uncles, don’t say anything to them, and don’t be surprised if you like totally creep them out. That ruined my groove, man.
Music usually plays a big role in the success of a commercial. More importantly, the sound effects have to seem realistic or else they cannot be intrusive. I had actually never seen this Honda commercial before researching videos for this article. But once I watched it I knew I had to include it. All of the sound effects are performed by a choir. This is the kind of performance that ignites the imagination.
This Nissan Altima commercial takes me back to the 1980s with “Love Hurts” by Nazareth. I shouldn’t admit it, but I think I drive like the people in this commercial.
I laughed my heart out the first time I saw this commercial with Sumo wrestlers doing the sexy thang at a car wash. Some people are a little put off by it but the guys look like they had some fun doing the shoot. The song is “Danger! High Voltage” by Electric Six.
And last but not least, what would a car commercial retrospective be without a pre-television 1939 vintage Chevrolet commercial that speaks of a car taking a family on a trip “easily, safely, and with the utmost economy”. Is that a V-8 engine? Where are the seat belts? What about safety glass? Compared to the cars on the road today, that 1939 model had hardly anything to offer: no air conditioning, no FM radio, no satellite radio, no DvD player, no bucket seats, no sun/moon roof — and you had to roll the windows down manually.
Ewww. I’m glad I’m not stuck in 1939 (which was a little before my time anyway). I suppose the car would cost about $50,000 in good condition today. Go figure.