FIVE memorable car commercials from the last 15 years

November 09, 2018

Spoiler. You will not find Vin Sodding Diesel on this list.

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1. Jaguar meets Mercedes’ chicken (2013)

Shots. Fired!

In September 2013, Mercedes-Benz produced a commercial promoting its brand new S-Class limousine and its Magic Body Control, in which some understandably bemused chickens are made to dance to ‘Upside Down’ by Diana Ross.

Now while that may sound absolutely naff, it really wasn’t. Not only did the commercial explain the intricacies of Mercedes’ technically complex suspension system (one that uses a specialized camera to scan the road surface ahead to hone out ride imperfection), but it also demonstrated that the very-German Mercedes-Benz actually had a sense of humour. Sure, the same idea had already been used in this Fuji advert almost half a year earlier, but still…

Two months later, the thrice-starred chicken was back, now in the hands (quite literally) of Merc’s segment rivals Jaguar to promote the ‘cat-life reflexes’ of the British marque’s product line-up. If Mercedes’ chicken advert was informative and amusing, Jaguar’s was an ice cold burn and hilarious.

Those of you concerned about the chicken’s welfare need not worry. Its death was instantaneous.

2. Honda, ‘The Cog’ (2003)

Oh wow, has been massively predictable by including possibly the most famous car commercial of all time on this list. How original!

Yes, my pitchfork-wielding, CAPS LOCK-loving friends in the comments section, you’re right, but there was absolutely no way ‘The Cog’ was not going to make it onto this list.

For one thing, the timing and the intricacy of this 2-minute clip are beyond mesmerising (Honda even released this ‘Behind the Scenes’ video a few months later to prove that none of it was done with CGI). For another, given that production was a massive six years in the making, the enormous success of ‘The Cog’, arguably, opened the floodgates for more ambitious projects down the line, not just from Honda but other mainstream manufacturers too. Controversy wasn’t too far around the corner either, with Honda being sued by Peter Fischli and David Weiss, creators of the 1987 art-house film, Der Lauf der Dinge, for essentially ripping off their concept.

All this, and you probably couldn’t tell us which Honda ‘The Cog’ was promoting with a gun to your head (psst, it was the seventh-gen Accord).

3. Building a Skoda Fabia…with cake? (2007)

We were tempted to go rogue and include the ‘Made of Meaner Stuff’ Fabia vRS follow-up into this entry instead, given that it includes a burly gentleman with the beardiest of beards wielding a cattle prod, a colleague with metal teeth chewing a door panel, and a turbodiesel fuelled with cobra venom.

‘Cake’ though ultimately gets the nod, given both its amazing creativity but, also, the sheer amount of ingredients and time dedicated to the task. Set to ‘My Favourite Things’ by Julie Andrews, eight SKODA technicians spent a full week baking, in painstaking detail, an entire, life-size Fabia hatchback, an exercise that required 10 kg of white chocolate chunks, 12.5 kg of raspberry jam, 100 kg of wheat flour and caster sugar, 180 fresh eggs, 42 kg of chocolate fudge, and 270 kg of icing sugar. And that’s just to start with.

While no part of this enterprise could be even remotely considered ‘easy’, SKODA goes all-in by crafting each panel individually, overseen by London-based model maker, John Pennicott. All to show the new Fabia was ‘full of lovely stuff’.

You wouldn’t want to be the poor sod put in charge of finding room in the refrigerator though…

4. Renault Mégane, ‘Shakin’ That Ass’ (2003)

This ‘angle’, if you’ll forgive me calling it that, was essentially two dozen men, women, and a smattering of well-concealed sporting personalities – one of whom was rumoured, although almost certainly wasn’t, two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso – shaking their posteriors to the tune of Groove Armada’s, ‘I See You Baby’. All to demonstrate that the new second-generation Renault Mégane…had a fat arse.

The commercial MIGHT have subtly been trying to imply that trunk-space capacity now greatly exceeded its predecessor, and that the previously stale Mégane had received a hearty dose of ‘charisma’ alongside its Botox injections for the new millennium. But that wasn’t really what caught the viewers’ eye. So successful was this campaign in the UK that, three years later, it was revisited for the Mégane’s mid-life facelift.

Fun fact, this commercial not only led to a ‘Baby Got Back’ by Sir-Mix-A-Lot version in Australia, but apparently was an inspiration for Reebok’s ‘Shake It’ advert starring Kelly Brook a few years later.

5. Audi RS 3 Sportback, ‘Birth’ (2015)

And finally, we have this entrant from Audi, which…

…God knows…I…I mean, absolutely God knows what the hell was going on when this pitch meeting was held (other than, presumably, massive amounts of cocaine).

Yes, the latest addition to Audi’s Rennsport performance-focused line-up was always going to receive a push from the company’s flagship R8 supercar, and with the marketing team pushing ‘an everyday sportscar, fitted with a not-so everyday engine’ tagline courtesy of the RS 3’s 400-PS 2.5-litre turbocharged five-cylinder, the 5.2-litre V10 from which performance chops had been derived was also a given. Still, absolutely nobody was expecting an R8 V10 Plus to ‘birth the new RS 3 Sportback in grimly graphic detail.

They can poke fun at Porsche’s return to Le Mans by pulling donuts in an R18 prototype. They can transform mid-town America into ‘zombies’ to promote their service department. But nothing will ever top the most artistically visual yet genuinely haunting commercial Audi ever produced.