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See The Top 10 Car Commercials Of The Modern Ad Era

Ad org The One Club recently announced its picks for the best car commercials of the past 25 years. Guess if the Baby Darth Vader Super bowl spot made the cut…

  • 01 /10 | 10. "Snow Covered"

    Bozell Worldwide Southfield and Chrysler/Jeep - 1994
    Digital Domain provided the VFX for this spot, directed by Eric Saarinen.

  • 02 /10 | 9. "Milky Way"

    Arnold Worldwide Boston and Volkswagen -1999
    Creative director Lance Jensen was an influential figure in the evolution of music in ads. This spot was actually meant to be set to The Church’s "Under The Milky Way," but the creatives fell in love with Nike Drake’s "Pink Moon." The ad caused a spike in sales of the late singer’s album.

  • 03 /10 | 8. "Lamp Post"

    BMP DDB London and Volkswagen - 1998
    A bit of classic British humor.

  • 04 /10 | 7. "Toys"

    TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles and Nissan - 1997
    Spoilsport Mattel sued Nissan over this ad featuring a game Barbie and G.I. Joe.

  • 05 /10 | 6. "Born of Fire"

    Wieden+Kennedy Portland and Chrysler - 2011
    A showstopper in the 2011 Super Bowl, this spot introduced W+K’s "Imported from Detroit" campaign.

  • 06 /10 | 5. "Sheet Metal"

    Goodby, Silverstein & Partners San Francisco and Saturn - 2002
    No cars! Just people! Unheard of in 2002.

  • 07 /10 | 4. "The Hire"

    Fallon Minneapolis and BMW - 2001
    One of the early online-video-based brand content efforts, this massively influential campaign saw Hollywood directors and stars creating high-end films for the brand.

  • 08 /10 | 3. "The Force"

    Deutsch Los Angeles and Volkswagen - 2011
    Read about it here.

  • 09 /10 | 2. "Cog"

    Wieden+Kennedy London and Honda - 2003
    This spot (itself inspired by Fischli and Weiss’ "The Way Things Go"), directed by Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, kicked off the Rube Goldberg craze in modern pop culture.

  • 10 /10 | 1. "Grrr"

    Wieden+Kennedy London and Honda - 2004
    Garrison Keillor asks/sings "Can Hate Be Good?" in this groundbreaking spot, inspired by Honda’s lead engineer who resisted the idea of building a diesel engine, due to their noisy, smelly qualities--a "hate" that was transformed into the creation of a better engine. The sentiment, the song, and the animation were unique in the category.

While cars are a part of the cultural fabric of America, it’s no easy task selling one, whether it’s in person, online, or through a commercial. Next to real estate, it’s one of the most expensive purchases regular people make, so the message has to be delivered just so. There’s price to consider, of course. For ad creators, there are demanding clients (who probably came up in the car world, not the creative world) to please—and dealers. There are features that need to be sold, while recognizing that a car is an emotional purchase, so a brand persona must be carefully crafted. All in all, a high difficulty level—which is why, for many years, a lot of car advertising was a forgettable melange of sheet metal and mountain roads—and which is why it’s a remarkable feat to make a car ad that really looks or says something new.

Now, the makers of the best of these ads are being recognized for their efforts.

This week, at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, advertising organization The One Club announced the top 10 automobile commercials from the past 25 years. More than 70 advertising creatives and journalists chose the winners from a crop that included over 60 award-winning entries.

Among the judges: Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Andy Azula of The Martin Agency, and advertising legend George Lois. In addition to the top 10 ads, the public choice winner was Saatchi and Saatchi Los Angeles’ 2012 "Camry Reinvented" commercial for Toyota, as voted on by 7,000 fans on The One Club website.

Watch the 10 best automobile ads in the slide show above.