When a car company wants to make a television advert, it writes a blank cheque to an advertising agency full of 'creatives' that wear silly trousers and spend all day cultivating blue sky cerebral abstractions while chewing on sugar-free cereal bars. So we hear.
Sometimes these dudes come up with works of pure psyche-entering genius; other times, the car companies would be well within their rights to ask for the cheque back. The following selection of videos show both ends of the spectrum. They're in no particular order...
Best: The Cog, Honda Accord
Despite becoming an instant classic, the full version of 2003's The Cog was only ever played ten times on TV because the airtime cost so much, but the internet costs nothing, so here you go:
Worst: Noel Edmonds, Austin Rover
The best part of Noel's ad is the revelation that the Metro has "controls brought to your fingertips". Thousands thought that this announced the creation of driving gloves with indicator stalks sewn into the fingers. They were naturally disappointed to find only regular stalks attached to the Metro's steering column. You lied, Noel!
Best: Russ Swift, Austin Rover Montego
This is better, Austin Rover. They'd never be able to do this now for fear it would instigate a spate of overturned chav-wagons. But back in the '80s you could do what you liked - including blatantly slagging off a rival. Yeah, you suck Vauxhall - what you gonna do about it, eh? If only car companies still did this sort of thing: a BMW 3 Series powersliding while the driver flips the bird to a row of estate agents in Audi A4s. Now that would be worth an award.
Best: Funky Transformer, Citroen C4
A clear case of the quality of the advert itself far outweighing the thing it's advertising. Highly clever, amusing and very memorable.
Best: The Force, Volkswagen Passat
A simple idea, brilliantly executed. And because it's got a little kid playing Darth Vader, even girls can like it. That's perhaps why this 2011 ad has surpassed 44,000,000 views on YouTube already, and counting.
Worst: Rocky, Ford RS2000
This cheese-fest is almost as much a disgrace to the iconic Rocky franchise as Rocky V was. Lazy, badly conceived advertising at its most cringeworthy. Ford, hang your head.
Best: Car cake, Skoda Fabia
It's a life-sized Skoda Fabia made out of cake. What's not to like?
Worst: Ricardo Montalban, Chrysler Cordoba
Mexican ladies' man Ricardo Montalban knows his own needs. What he needs is a huge, wasteful brown Chrysler with button back chairs in it. Don't we all.
Best: Nicole et Papa, Renault Clio
Who knows why this advert became so popular, but Nicole and Papa took on a life of their own in the early '90s. Even Vic and Bob got involved towards the end. The whole thing was sort of dying by then, though.
Worst: Fernando Alonso, Fiat 500
Ever heard dialogue or seen dubbing as bad as this? Come on, Fiat.
Worst: The Simpsons, Renault Kangoo
An example of what happens when an advertising company has lots of money but no ideas. Never aired in the UK. (Or if it did, nobody noticed.)
Best: Batman and Robin, MG Metro
We're not sure that MG was ever capable of irony, but if that's what this is then it's one of the funniest car adverts ever. It even throws in a free chocolate biscuit promo at the end, because someone at MG clearly couldn't bear to have the hilarious pun they'd thought of at the pub left out.
Best: Singin' in the Rain, Volkswagen Golf GTI
Another entry from VW, and another advert that caused a stir immediately. This is apparently the very rubbery dancer from the famous 'insane robot dance' video. Superb stuff.
Very best: Ferrari idiot, Hamlet cigars
Our favourite ever car ad isn't even a car ad, but an epic piece of cigar-based tomfoolery that has a Ferrari in it. That's good enough for us. Watch, remember, enjoy...but don't smoke, kids.