One of the smartest people I ever met in the car business once told me, "the smartest people I meet in the car business are dealers." Being that the guy speaking wasn't a dealer himself (in fact, he was a longtime Ford engineer with multiple patents under his belt and more than a few zeros in his bank account), I always took his words to heart. Sure, the carmakers have the tough job of making the vehicle, but the dealers have an even tougher job in selling it against the competition and still making a profit.
And, despite the occasional bait-and-switch story about someone getting a raw deal from an unscrupulous dealer, most of the time you'll find car dealers are just that: smart guys who know they have to work really hard to make their business run. You know what else? Because they're sales guys, they're generally a whole lot more fun, too.
That hard work and joie de vivre often manifests itself in interesting ways: take, for example, the notion of a car dealer doing a TV commercial. The local dealer has only X amount of dollars each month to bring prospective buyers into the showroom and TV has been a favorite for years, simultaneously stroking the boss's ego while offering the ability to present bold images and sound. But not just any ad will suffice: if it doesn't cut through the clutter, it's wasted cash. Big, bold and shocking tend to come to mind. If it gets noticed -- even if fails to win an Oscar -- it has at least achieved part of its goal.
Perhaps hilariously, this leaves us with a trail of car dealer commercials so outrageous, so good and so bad that we consider them classics. And as much as a car dealer might take one on the chin for appearing on our list, one thing is certain: we're still talking about them. Maybe they're having the last laugh, after all.
Bad Acting: Is It Endearing Or Just Bad?
Maybe the acting isn't what we love so much about this commercial from A&L Motors. Maybe it's the inherent sense of discomfort. Max Talbot (one of the four Pittsburgh Penguins appearing here) delivers 8 of the most awkward seconds we've ever seen on film.
What Doesn't This Ad Have?
Okay, so we've got: loud voiceover, a girl dressed in something less than professional, pugilism, bells, bad acting, and a crushing offer! I'm sold!
The Trunk Monkey
An idea that's become so successful its ad agency licenses it to 50 different markets, the trunk monkey doesn't so much as sell cars as it gives buyers a good reason to laugh. The trunk monkey is a dealer-installed accessory that does, well, just about everything.
Rap? Yeah, We Do That
Was this made by the service guy on his webcam? We don't care: the homemade rap, blurry video montage and indelible lines like "inventory out the woodwork" just do it for us. We're headed down to Route 1 in Virginia today.
The Johnson Automotive people (in the Raleigh, North Carolina area) simply know their audience. They've managed to perfectly encapsulate the preconceived notions many people still have about dealers and roll them up into a walking, talking, pelvis-girating 2-foot-tall badger. Their message is clear: we're not like this little guy.
The Credit Pimp
Do pimps have good credit? I never knew. They do seem to always carry a lot of cash. I suppose having something "pimped" is better than having it unpimped, but I'm not sure I want my credit being involved with a guy in a pink suit.
Cute kid + adult voiceover might work for the latest E*Trade ads, but do they work for Florence & White Ford?
Is He Crazy? Or Just Annoying
"Crazy Tracy" might call himself crazy, but we think he's just obnoxious. Something of a celebrity in Chandler, Arizona for his outlandish TV ads and questionable use of full-figured mannequins at his dealership, we find this ad certifiable local dealer gold.
$300 Is All You Need!
Don't pay attention to Kim. Or Sheri. Or Bruce. Or Annie. Or Yvonne. Or Marie. Just watch Mack, the bulldog on his hind legs. He's the thing that pulls this 31 seconds of hot mess together.
The Doctor Will See You Now
Florida Auto Exchange sure seems like a stand up place, doesn't it? The mad doctor (he's the one with the labcoat and snorkeling mask, in case you missed him) cures ills of all kinds. Bring in your Dodge Avenger and he'll turn it into a Saab 9-3 in no time.
Be honest: Did you expect Eagle Man would save the day? Then again, what is he really saving?