Creative Review: The automotive ad race

By AdNews | 22 June 2018
'Holden Colorado, Not to be Outdone' campaign

This first appeared in the June issue of AdNews Magazine.

Car ads are always a point of discussion in adland, but are they too similar? Is it too risky to shift gear from the standard? Are 2018's consumers still interested in fast car footage?

Here, we asked some past and present Cannes Lions judges to weigh in on the relevance of recent auto ads.

Who are the top trio that took part? 

1) Sudler & Hennessey Australia creative director Cherie Davis

"What does your car say about you? Mine says I’m practical, eco–minded and slightly European–ish. In the end, cars will be cars. And these ads don’t so much as sell cars as they do lifestyles. But, how do you portray that lifestyle and still stay fresh and relevant and get consumers to want to get behind the wheel? Whatever the reason, after seeing the Holden Colorado ad, I may buy a shiny, new goat."

2) M&C Saatchi group creative director Andy Flemming

"Let’s be honest, you can usually slap almost any badge at the end of any ad. But HoldenColorado is really good and even Toyota gave it a good go. I genuinely hope the words ‘give me one of those’ echo around Australia. Until then, people will type in ‘best car under 35,000’ and go with Google. They used to go with what we said. There’s still hope."

3) Soap Creative partner/ECD Bradley Eldridge

"The typical brochure–style auto ad is a road well– worn, so it’s refreshing to see some new approaches to car commercials in this set. Kudos to Toyota for thinking about a bigger masterbrand play around sales and service — the idea of an overnight test drive is something I’d love to see applied to other big purchases in life. That Colorado ad though — awesome to see a car brand willing to play the goat." 

HOLDEN COLORADO NOT TO BE OUTDONE

The Monkeys

CD: What do you get when a mountain man squares up against a mountain goat in an epic battle to one–up each other? A great piece of film. This spot was shot beautifully, edited masterfully and the soundtrack is inspired. Hats off to all who took part in the production. The casting was equally great (both the man and the goat). Plus, it’s a clever demo for the ruggedness of the Holden Colorado.

AF: I’m normally an acerbic bastard when I’m doing these, but the first ad I’m looking at is Holden’s ‘Not to be Outdone’ and it’s fucking great. It also puts to bed the myth that a client can’t change its spots. It can. All it takes is Ant Keogh involved in some capacity. The casting, direction and soundtrack are absolutely bang–on. Best car ad from this country in a very long while. Bastards.

BE: I love a man versus beast match–up. This ad presents the perfect narrative to showcase the styling and performance of a feral goat and Holden Colorado. I wish we’d been shown the mighty peak the two competitors were racing to climb early on in the spot, making their mission more clear. That’s all I can criticise. The casting of the goat is excellent — it looks just like the guy with the beard.

ALFA ROMEO START SOMETHING

Y&R Melbourne

CD: Nice looking ad. Not totally sold on the insight around the confused, conformed, conned conservative masses not thinking for themselves. I guess if I was racing through a beautiful European city with no cars or people on the roads, I wouldn’t have to think. But, this in itself has me feeling conned. Ahh advertising, how would I make decisions in life without you?

AF: The second I see the words ‘Overseas model shown’ I see the sad, lifeless eyes of a creative watching endless loops of a car
driving on the wrong side of the road around a series of European roads. These have to be edited together and ‘regionalised.’ The common technique is to bung on a soundtrack that ends with your strapline (Don’t hold back!) Or, as they’ve done here, get the planner to write the ad with as many consumer insights as he can spew onto the page. Apparently, we’ve all got to ‘start something.’ I suggest writing better voiceovers.

BE: This is a well–executed, strategy–led manifesto–hype reel film. If you are the proud owner of an Alfa Romeo, this ad assures you, you’ve made the right choice.

TOYOTA DRIVE HAPPY

Saatchi & Saatchi NZ

CD: Visual manifestations of our inner worries/anxieties are a well–trodden path in advertising, but Toyota has managed to keep  this one fresh and extremely watchable. The insights of each of the ‘bothers’ around buying a car are spot on (I’ve experienced them all), and the little monsters that represent them are really entertaining and well–executed. Wrapping it all up in “Drive Happy” is a nice pay–off. Great spot.

AF: There’s a moment. It’s happened in couches, pubs, multi–coloured breakout rooms and filthy offices across the country. It’s a beaming smile followed by the words ‘let’s personify the human emotion with a thing!’ This moment is followed by a hearty back slap or manly hug. It’s a magical moment because the ad in question seems somehow more creative, more fun; it’ll involve Animal Logic or Heckler and that’s always a giggle. Unfortunately, it’s something we’ve all toyed with. I think ‘Niggling Doubt’ was the first. There will be more. This looks more like the sad furry ‘idea’ in the GE campaign.

BE: Ahhh, the classic “personify the problem” ad, but it’s done very well. The imaginary friends really dial up the frenzied craziness of the tortured car buyers. When you dig deeper, the platform that’s been set up to support the ad is brilliant — showing a more human approach to the monstrous task of purchasing a new car. It makes me happy.

HOLDEN COMMODORE FOR SURE

The Monkeys

CD: A really lovely, emotive story. Nicely shot and produced. It took me on a beautiful ride through all the uncertainties that we have all faced at one time or another in life. The tears were welling up all the way until the tagline “For Sure” appeared, then I quickly snapped back into the world of advertising. The line, although short and snappy, just didn’t complete the emotional journey of the spot.

AF: I’ll bet $100 that the agency stuck the soundtrack to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on the animatic that sold this, as I’ve been trying to sell that for years and I can recognise it anywhere. This is one of those spots directors love to make and clients love to see. It’s some sort of life story where a man’s entire life is made up of the word ‘Sure.’ I thought it was an ad for a deodorant until the guy bought a car that he was probably sure about. It’s not bad. It’s not great. It’s definitely not Holden Colorado.

BE: I really like the dark look and the heavy vibes. It sucks me in and makes me reflect on my own life decisions. It’s successful in showing me the Holden Commodore is a family car, for sure. But, it fails to showcase the new design or tech innovation. Fortunately the experience on the Holden website lets me dig deeper to uncover more.

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