Marketing a car isn’t easy; simply coming up with a name is a minefield.

You want something strong and aspirational without sounding cheesy and naff. Then there’s the possibility that the model name could be lost in translation or, even worse, be offensive in other languages (we’re looking at you, francais MR2).

The name is just the start and, even in 2018, TV advertising is still one of the most effective ways of getting a new car in front of consumers. However, getting this right is a whole other ball game. A car TV ad can be something as memorable Honda’s iconic ‘The Cog’, or it could be Michael Barrymore being cringy as hell about a 1989 Rover Metro.

The best

Honda Accord – The Cog

Let’s start with the good stuff and one we just mentioned: Honda’s millimetre-perfect ‘The Cog’. Used to promote the Accord (RIP), this mesmerising chain reaction clip took months to plan and perfect, not to mention another two days to film.

If one item was even a smidge out of place, it ruined the rest of the sequence and that meant everything had to be set up all over again. More than 300 takes were filmed to get it right, but it paid off because we’re still wowed by it 15 years on. Put simply, this is the gold standard for car TV commercials.

Skoda’s cake car

What’s better than cars? Cake, that’s why it felt like everything was right in the world when Skoda baked a car out of cake in 2007. Granted, it was only a Fabia, but we’d like to think it was the much-missed vRS variant.

An Audi RS 3 gives birth

“Where do cars come from, mummy?” asks Little Jimmy. “Just watch this clip, son,” replies cruel mother.

The bad

Barrymore’s Rover Metro ain’t awight

Poor Michael Barrymore doesn’t need any more mud slinging his way, but roping in someone as intolerable as MB to flog a car as awful as the Rover Metro was an ugly perfect marriage. Even in 1989 when Barrymore was in his prime, this clip must’ve been peak irritating.

BMW bozos

On the whole, BMW has the TV advertising lark nailed down, but it wasn’t always like that. Check out these uber-smug siblings flogging the 1 Series.

And the ugly

Not strictly a car advert, but we feel’s agonising singalong warrants inclusion here.

‘18 million strong’, boasts the clip; we can’t help feel that many of those customers regretted using Confused after this sacrilegious cringefest.


Again, not an advert for a car, but WeBuyAnyCar inflicted much pain with its ‘Quick Quick’ advert.

Which car adverts stick in the mind for you? Let us know down in the comments.

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