We love old TV car ads – feast your eyes on these!

Want to watch some car ads from yesteryear, filmed in FuzzyvisionTM and featuring comically outdated clothes/attitudes? Of course you do!

All TV admakers face the same problem: they have a minute or less to make a product stick in your mind. Ideally, you should associate that product with things or you like. Just imagine the challenge of doing that with something like a duster or a battery!

Car ads come with an extra level of challenge, because the product is probably one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy.

So let’s take a look at the tactics two manufacturers (Fiat, Renault) took in the nineties/noughties to make you part with your hard-earned dosh.

1. Sex sells

We could fill up a post on this theme alone. Countless car ads play on our primal urges, by associating a chunk of inanimate metal with a stupendous-looking human. Italian car brands – you’ll be surprised to hear! – are particularly fond of this.

Take this 2004 ad for the Fiat Punto, paying special attention to 0:15. I mean, we had to laugh… how blatant can you get?

2. Sex plus humour sells

Here we are, back with the Punto in a 1999 ad. Even though it’s an earlier ad, this one gives the sexy associations a more sophisticated spin, with the ogling boyfriend getting a taste of his own medicine. The bouncy Andy Williams soundtrack creates the perfect vibe.

Note that even if the audience isn’t on board with the girlfriend’s reprimand, there are still the eye-popping Italian models to associate the car with. It’s disapproval, but with a wink.

3. Goodness, what were they thinking of?

We’re back with those wacky lads at Fiat for our third helping of Punto ads. But proving that not all old ads are classics, we think this one completely misses the mark.

Featuring the sort of bloke you dread moving in next door, it’s a sneering sexist rant about why the Punto is ideal for women.

And yes, we get that the ad intends to satirise sexist attitudes, but the problem is that there’s no sort of jokey payoff. It might work if the ad cut back and forth between his comments and shots of a woman showing off her driving skills. But without some sort of framing, it just seems like Fiat are endorsing blokey’s bitter nonsense, rather than poking fun at it.

Maybe the whole thing is too clever for us, but somehow, it all seems a bit cold and mean-spirited.

4. Renault drips French romance

Back to the good stuff. If you’re a certain age, you’ll certainly remember Renault’s 90s ad series for the Clio, featuring Estelle Skornik as cute-as-a-button Nicole and Max Douchin as suave Papa, the Frenchiest father ever. This example is a little masterpiece. Not only does it tell a charming story about two generations pursuing love, but it crams in a shedload of French imagery: warm weather, shuttered windows, mediaeval small-town streets, tree-lined roads, all suffused in golden sunlight. The admakers have pulled in everything Brits love about a French holiday and linked it to the little Clio.

In a nice touch, notice that at 0:34, Papa, hellbent on his own liaison, fails to spot Nicole at the café.

5. Renault marries French cuteness & British culture

The Papa and Nicole ads ran for seven years. They were so popular, says Wikipedia, that:

In 1996, one survey found that Nicole was recognised by more Britons than Prime Minister John Major, Bob Hoskins or Chris Evans.

We so want to believe that’s true! The grand finale was the one-minute ad shown below, apparently filmed on a potato. Here the ad-makers blend together the campaign’s regular themes with the iconic elopement scene from The Graduate. The brilliantly surreal twist was adding in British Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, then at the height of their popularity. It injects that note of British nuttiness to create a truly cross-channel mash-up.


Nostalgic for great customer service? Call us.

If this collection of ads has left you nostalgic for the days before chatbots and AI answering services, please give us a call. We’re an independent South Wales garage staffed by real humans, ready to service, repair or MOT your car to a high standard. Specialising in VW Group vehicles, we offer a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.