Image Source / Rob Casey

Car images have been powerful vehicles (excuse the pun) for advertising messages and in a week which has seen some great new car ads, we look at some classic car imagery and the core marketing messages they convey.

The Mobile Office: Power

Image Source / John Rowley

Working on-the-go, in the car, has always been the visual symbol of the busy, decisive executive, calling the shots all over the world – “Get me Sergei in Moscow!” Chauffeur-driven, flicking through documents, and long before the advent of mobile phone, picking up the advanced technology of the car handset. Now “Busy” is signalled by multi-tasking cellphone conversation and tapping on the internet-enabled laptop.

The Mobile Office:: Flexibility

Image Source / Lawrence Baker

This is a shot that came from the future. 15- 20 years ago this image would not have made sense, either technologically or in terms of lifestyle. What are you doing with that laptop in a forest? Why when you are enjoying some leisure time, would you be on your computer?  Now we work everywhere, anytime.  While the image above featuring the suited-businessman is about power, this is an image of “entrepreneurialism”, embodied by the coolest, skin-tight-clothes-wearing hero-of-the-moment-on-two-wheels – the Amateur Cyclist.

The Road Trip: Discovery

Image Source / Sean Murphy

Friendship, bonding, personal growth, escape. The open-road, the top-down convertible, this image works for brands looking to communicate the life-changing power of the ‘inspirational’ road-trip.

The Craftsman: Honesty

Image Source / Richard Lewisohn

In the digital age when so much work is service related, the idea of the crafts worker increasingly has strong symbolic value. Like “The Digitial Everywhere” photo above, this image would have had no cultural status 15-20 years ago. Now, especially when there is such public lack of trust in jobs such as banking, this is not an image about cars, it’s about  “assurance”, “trust” and the “idea of honest hard work.”

The Classic: Changing Perspectives

Image Source / Rob Casey

Car images are all about space and perspective. They’re about the relationship between the cocoon of the driver and the drama of the landscape, about the perspective from the rearview mirror and side mirror, and from the perspective of driving through the epic visual symbolism of Death Valley. An iconic motif in car imagery.


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