Cashing in on heritage is making TV ads worth watching again


Author: Martin PortPublished:

Over the past few years, I’ve tended to turn away from the telly if there’s been an advertisement for a new car.

Quite simply, they’ve generally been horrible ‘car swishes along coastal road while bloke or woman grimaces, trying to appear as if their new purchase has transformed their existence’ efforts.

And don’t even get me started on the whole ‘Joy is…’ scenario employed by BMW.

However, things seem to have taken a turn for the better recently, and it has coincided with a realisation from several manufacturers that heritage isn’t a bad thing and may actually help shift a few moderns along the way.

Audi kicked things off a few months ago with its ad for the new A5.

Now, I have very little interest in the A5, but the fact that the bulk of the ad is made up of Paul Jaray’s teardrop prototype feeling sorry for itself as the ‘ugly duckling’, means that my attention remains directed at the screen for at least the first 40 seconds of the one minute ad. Until the A5 makes an entrance!

Land-Rover’s latest tv effort also made me sit up and take notice.

The ‘Above & Beyond’ advert kicks off with 20 seconds of ‘heritage’ footage – several Series Is are seen doing their thing – including scenes from the famous Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition in 1955 – before a three-door Range Rover is propelled up the side of a mountain somewhere.

Obviously the ad then morphs into a commercial for the new range of Evoques, Discoverys etc, but I can almost forgive that necessity after such a good start.

Finally for 2012 (so far), is Volkswagen’s ‘21st Century Beetle’ advertisement.

Once again, in what is now a tried and tested format, the ad kicks off with a montage of classic Beetles proving just how usable they really are: shopping cart, police car, wedding car, off-roading cattle-herder (!), and tow-car, before modern day dawns and the second incarnation of the new VW Beetle hits the screens.

Of course, all this means that the advertisers are doing their job right: instead of turning off, putting the kettle on, or picking fluff out of my belly button for 1 minute 21 seconds, my gaze remained towards the television screen… for most of the advert at least.

Okay, so none of these ads has inspired me to rush out and book a test drive, but they have reassured me that there are manufacturers in the world that are acknowledging the importance of their own heritage and, with it, the potential value of the enthusiasts that might just consider buying into the brand here and now.



There have been a few great Super Bowl ads in the same vein in the U.S.  My favorite heritage ad is the "Roll" ad from Cadillac - showcasing many of their milestone cars, complete with Iggy Pop providing the soundtrack.  The long version of the ad is here:

There was another one a couple of years ago from Mercedes - called Welcome, where many of the current/heritage/concept models "escape" to greet the then new Mercedes models.P-Diddy kinda ruins it but the ad is still worth checking out.

Not a Super Bowl ad, but there was a good "heritage" ad for the introduction of the Mercedes CLS - not sure if it was US only, but here's a link:

They did another one for the SL as well:

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