Writing

Car Ads: Where Reality Takes A Backseat!

I once strutted into a car dealership in Albany, New York, fancying myself the next Ansel Adams of automobile photography. I had my camera slung over one shoulder, my portfolio bursting with shots of shiny hubcaps and dramatic rearview mirror reflections, and a confident glint in my eye. But the hiring manager took one look at my resume, pushed up his glasses, and said, “I see you’ve captured the essence of a ’67 Mustang in the golden hour, but where’s your college degree?”

I was flabbergasted. Who knew you needed a diploma to snap a picture of a gently used sedan?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably sat on your couch, munching on snacks, and witnessed the wonder of car commercials. These commercials have a special talent for creating alternate realities that I can’t help but chuckle at. Today, we’re diving deep into the humorous world of car photography in advertisements. Here are four ridiculous tropes commonly seen in vehicle commercials and brochures. Buckle up!

1. The Camping Trip Fantasy

You know the scene. Fresh off the car lot, shiny paint glistening in the sun, a brand-new car is seen rolling into… A remote campsite? Yep, our hero apparently decided to forego the home garage and drove straight to a serene lakeside or mountain base. Never mind the transition from asphalt to rugged trails; this vehicle can do it! And of course, the car remains pristine, despite the dusty roads and probable bird activity. For whatever reason, the grass at that part of the remote wilderness is neatly trimmed. They must have brought along a lawnmower along with their tent. Come to think of it, who really needs a tent when you’ve got that new car smell?

2. The Dirt Road Dilemma

Ever gotten lost on a road trip? The commercials have you covered! Often, we see a sleek vehicle confidently maneuvering a random unpaved road, surrounded by nothingness. The message? Even if you have no clue where you are, at least you’ll look good being lost. There’s no GPS signal, your cell phone is obviously completely out of range, and there are no other cars in sight, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure, right? Oh, and we absolutely need our headlights to be on and set to their highest setting, even in the middle of the day.

3. Farm Vogue: Parking Edition

Nothing screams trendy like parking your high-end vehicle next to a random outcropping boulder in a farm field? For reasons unbeknownst to us mere mortals, car photographers have a thing for massive outcropping rocks. Maybe it’s contrast? Perhaps it’s to show the vehicle’s ruggedness? Or maybe the car’s just taking a break, reflecting on life, thinking, “Why am I here next to a rock when I could be in a cozy garage?”

We may never know.

4. First Responder Flashiness

Lastly, my personal favorite—the fire department themed shots. Somewhere in a vehicle advertising brainstorming session, someone stood up and said, “You know what’s missing? An emergency!”

These scenes attempt to depict the car as a first responder. It’s not putting out fires or rescuing kittens from trees, but it’s there, looking shiny and important amidst the chaos. An emergency so intense and exciting that, although left to our imagination, is so unbelievable in scale that even the Lieutenant has to play an active, centralized role in the response. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for reliability? Or maybe it’s just a reminder that we all have our roles to play—the firetruck helps save lives, and the car… Well, it gets us to the grocery store and back home in time to watch re-runs of our favorite shows.

Car ads, with their eccentric scenes, are the gift that keeps on giving. They offer a humorous lens into a world where cars don’t just drive; they go on epic adventures, ponder life’s big questions next to boulders, and occasionally stand in solidarity with firetrucks.

Here’s to hoping our real-life car journeys are just as exciting (or at least a tad more realistic)! Safe travels, everyone!

Colophon
The day Amelia and I walked into the dealership, we were armed with a mishmash of aspirations. I had always harbored this childhood fantasy of owning a fire truck—gleaming red, loud sirens, flashing red lights, and just enough hose that I could lay a hose line in case I ever needed or wanted to. Amelia, ever the pragmatic one, was looking for something that was reliable and wouldn’t turn heads for all the wrong reasons.

We drove through the parking lot of Heritage Ford, feasting our eyes on sleek sedans, compact cars, and rugged trucks. Each vehicle came with its own glossy brochure, selling dreams on four wheels. Some promised the thrill of speed; others whispered promises of rugged adventures. And as we sifted through them, we couldn’t help but poke fun at the flamboyant marketing lingo and airbrushed images.

But our jesting came to a delightful halt when we laid eyes on the 2023 Ford F-150 Lariat. It was red. A fiery, passionate red that seemed to wink at both of us. To me, it was the fire truck of my dreams, minus the sirens. To Amelia, it was the epitome of practicality meshed with just a touch of flamboyance.

And as we drove out of the dealership, Amelia clutching the Lariat’s brochure (which we swore we’d lampoon but secretly cherished), I couldn’t help but think: sometimes, life’s best compromises are the ones that bring together the best of both worlds. We didn’t just buy a truck; we bought memories, laughs, and a brilliant shade of red that would see us through many adventures together.

Asides
Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD Codes) | Garage Blanche | Ford’s 7.3-liter Godzilla V8 Roars to 700 Horsepower with the Whipple Stage 2 SC System!

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