smart horses & good auto advertising

Having worked on an automotive account in the past, I always look at auto advertising with a critical eye. I know that I am critical, too, I just can’t help myself.

There are lots of ways to do auto ads well.

There is the approach Fallon took BMW and the famous BMW Films:

You also have the classic DDB / Bill Bernbach ads for VW:


There are even interesting ways to illustrate the product benefits, like the Saatchi & Saatchi ads for Toyota:

There are lots of ways to create compelling work for auto accounts. There are an equal number of bad ways to do auto advertising as well, but the point is that there is good work out there and I am particular about what I like.

So when a reader emailed me a print ad for VW (by DDB Milan), I was ready to pick it apart:


There were a few things that jumped out at me. Like the German-language newspaper in an English-language ad. Very weird. It reminds me of Bozo the Clown, the lead CD at the agency, who I know watches German porn (in the office, whenever I start talking about things he doesn’t understand or isn’t interested in), in German, even though I know he is an English speaker. But I digress.

I liked the line, “intelligent horses.” I liked the ad in general, actually – very VW, interesting information about the car, compelling visual. But, beyond the weird language thing, I wanted a little more. Even just a sentence more, to tell me what was intelligent about the horses in the car. Were they more environmentally-friendly? Were they more powerful? Were they bilingual?

Clean layouts are nice and all, but it’s better when you have great copy involved.

Like the classic Bernbach ad.


One response to “smart horses & good auto advertising

  1. Baffled me too buddy.
    No idea what it meant.
    My guess is that it’s got the power of educated horses, a play on the fact that it’s got a better engine?
    I suspect the ad was not written in English originally and something was lost in the translation.

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