Honda Odyssey, 2011
Young people aren't buying cars, and automakers are starting to freak out. So, maybe they need to stop selling Gen Y cars and start selling them vans. To motivate Madison Avenue, we've gathered together some of our favorite van ads of all time, starting with the one above—agency RPA's celebration of the metal-blaring, jaguar-shapeshifting Honda Odyssey.
Here's an absolute classic bit of copywriting and visual storytelling from Doyle Dane Bernbach. The ad makes a van feel flexible and liberating rather than clumsy and cumbersome. Oddly enough, this 52-year-old spot still makes you think vans are the future.
Volkswagen Bus Syncro, 1980s
Vans aren't just for hauling kids. They're also good for hauling ass across the rugged South African countryside, at least in this zany ad featuring singer David Kramer, who became a household name in South Africa thanks to his long-running campaign with Volkswagen.
Honda Odyssey, 2009
"The van is still rocking," Honda declares in this retro extravaganza of pop-culture clips. A core piece of RPA's "Respect the Van" push for the Odyssey, this is van glory at its greatest.
GMC Safari, 1995
Don't let other people tell you how to live. This is America! If you want to become morbidly obese, the GMC Safari will happily lug your fat ass all over town.
Chevrolet Astro, 1980s
Hands down the most trippy van ad of all. The Chevy Astro exists eternally in the floating firmament of your translucent skull.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, 2011
A custom track from German sound design firm Bluwi sets the perfect gritty tone in this global spot for VW's commercial vans. Lots of van ads go for the "real men working real hard" vibe, but this one nails it.
Volkswagen Crafter, 2008
Not all great van ads feature a van. VW created a series of funny, well-crafted vignettes like this one, with the tagline, "If only everybody did their job as well as Volkswagen."
Nissan Cube, 2009
Billed in this ad as a "mobile device," the Nissan Cube is one of the first real experiments in whether Gen Y will be enticed by a modern spin on the van. This spot by TBWA\Chiat\Day uses some nice visual trickery and a quirky track from New Young Pony Club.
For better or worse, van owners almost always build an emotional connection with their bulky beasts. This VW spot by Iris Worldwide is a beautiful celebration of the storied relationship between "man and van."