The world of video marketing and video production has changed drastically over the years. While car adverts used to be bold, bright and over the top to draw customers in, the Internet has changed things in recent years with simple, snappy content coming to the fore. In this article I take a look at how car adverts and marketing have changed dramatically over the past few decades.
In the eighties, car adverts were an assault on the senses with lots of colour, sound and movement. You couldn't move for jingles, especially in America, and some of the adverts might even have been confused with early eighties sci-fi. Particularly this Corvette advert from 1984.
There was a big emphasis on ‘the future’ back in the eighties, and this came across in catchy adverts that sold the benefits of the latest cars and the technology contained within.
It was in the nineties that things became all the more epic, with each car advert becoming more movie-like as the decade went on. There was an emphasis on action and excitement, much in the same way as a Hollywood blockbuster, and with bigger budgets and better production values, it really worked.
Ford opted to look towards movie classics of the time with its 1991 advert for the Escort RS2000. It featured a Rocky-esque montage set to the rousing music from the film. Of course, there were some adverts in the nineties that were just downright weird, take this Japanese advert for the Toyota Starlet for example.
In the noughties, manufacturers began to realise the benefits of selling their company as a whole to customers. More than ever consumers were willing to buy into a brand. Car adverts became less and less about the car and more about the aspirational and lifestyle qualities of a car. We were suddenly interested in what it meant to drive a certain vehicle.
Audi established itself as a dramatic, aspirational brand with adverts that made its customers feel slightly superior to those who owned other cars. Its black widow advert increased Audi's reputation as being mysterious to outsiders. This is a genuinely terrifying commercial that piqued interest.
Ford released an advert in 2009 that didn’t focus on a particular model. Instead, it showed a classical piece of music played on instruments made from car parts. This got customers talking, something that became very important as social media became a larger part of the marketing mix. It carried the tagline of 'beautifully arranged', delivering the message that Ford's range of vehicles are well-designed
Many car brands are also teaming up with influencers to increase reach across social channels because, while television advertising works, there's a huge social market to be tapped into. BMW teamed up with YouTube channel /DRIVE to stage its very own flash mob where cars drifted around a huge roundabout. It's this kind of content that gets shared, but partnering with the well known YouTube channel meant that BMW reached a huge audience full of people whom they may not previously have connected with.
More recently, short, sharp, Internet-friendly videos have been pushed to one side and brands are now trying to engage with consumers on an emotional level. Volvo's #MyPolestar campaign tugs on the heart strings of parents who want their children to look up to them. It features a video with a child talking about his daddy being a racing driver and promotes Volvo's powerful V60 Polestar.
Great automotive marketing campaigns have certainly changed over the past 30 years, in line with how technology has evolved. The next step for the car industry is to focus on brand values and eco-credentials, especially in the wake of the VW emissions scandal.
We'll also start to see more multi-channel videos that will form well-rounded campaigns. There will be the usual TV adverts alongside shorts for Vine and Instagram, behind-the-scenes epics for YouTube, and teasers on Twitter and Facebook. A campaign that covers all the bases and sends the same message across various audiences, in ways that appeal to each of them, is going to be very powerful indeed.
Author: Jon Mowat runs award-winning video marketing agency, Hurricane Media. Having previously produced documentary films for the BBC, Jon now works with international clients to tell their stories. You can follow @HurricaneMedia on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn.