Type 'city cars, fun' into Google and you get 210m results. That's because - in the absence of powerful engines, taut handling, luxurious refinement, big interior space and hi-tech gadgets - there's not a huge amount else to trump when you're selling these little cars, other than their price.
Hence, in these three adverts for the Toyota Aygo, Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 there's one theme reinfored again and again: fun. Toyota has even gone so far as to suggest you 'go fun yourself', which is a bit much. Peugeot reinforces the idea that you can personalise the 108 to your heart's content.
Citroen, interestingly, has a young man in its advert - a rare departure for these cars that tend to be aimed at women. It's also 'naturally urban' - and to prove it, here's a picture I took of it on the recent launch in Coventry.
What's interesting about these cars is that they are essentially, despite what manufacturers say, the same car so we have a rare opportunity to see how three different brands are represented by three different agencies given the same product to market.
That they have managed to create three fairly separate identities for them - with three clear messages - is pretty clever. That they're decent ads is all the more impressive.
My tip? Avoid the 1.0-litre engine and go for the 1.2. That rules out the Aygo but, frankly, if you like the colours who am I to argue? Let me know which one you like best.
Citroen C1 - Naturally Urban
Harry Potter goes hipster in Breaking Bad car-park.
Peugeot 108 - This Time It's Personal
Androgynous robots stalk through JG Ballard landscapes.
Toyota Aygo - Go Fun Yourself
Futuristic neo-noir directed by MGMT.
All of these come from some article I came across called 'ten adverts that shocked the world'. I forget where it was, but since it was a hyperbolic 'top ten' article I'd guess it was The Independent.
I don't find many of these very shocking, to be honest. Crass, distasteful, ill-conceived, boring and plain rubbish perhaps, but in a world where one can easily access images and videos of hardcore pornography, torture and murder at the click of a button I can't see how the bulk of these could raise more than an eyebrow.
Certainly, placing these amid the pages of a 'family' newspaper - as sex and death rags like the News of the World used to call themselves - they may be more problematic, but in these days of multimedia exposure it's hard to imagine even Mary Whitehouse getting too worked up over a picture of a kind-of naked bottom.
Here's my take.
The smoking one
Cigarette-smoking as sex slavery. As bizarre as it's unpleasant as it's unfathomable.
The paedophile one
Hideous. So much so that the point of the ad is lost in the viewer's desire to turn away. Although it's frighteningly similar to the front covers of lots of ents mags.
The dog sex one
The results of giving some bonkers, pretentious enfants terribles wannabes access to the cash in your marketing account. This sort of thing should exist solely behind paywalls online. And in my BitTorrent folder.
The sexy one
Stick a load of idiots together in a studio and sooner or later they'll come up with something like this.
The Toyota Prius one
I really like this. Sadly it's not even real. Toyota is far too boring to do anything like this. Can you think of a good Toyota advert? No, you can't.
The old one
Pfft. Since it's possible to see Angelina Jolie and Paris Hilton in various states of undress - and actually watch one of them sucking a cock and being fucked - it's not exactly shocking to see them subjected to some bad Photoshop. Maybe if they were given the make-under - and then video-d sucking cock and being fucked.
The blood one
Eh? What's remotely shocking about this? Good ad though.
The Benetton one
Now this. This is genuinely shocking. A dying man; an anguished family. Powerful, affecting stuff. Aesthetically this is a wonderful photo on top of everything else. Pity it's rather undermined by a multinational trying to sell baseball caps off the back of it.
The arse one
An arse. What's shocking about an arse? Unless it's Piers Morgan who, as we all know, is more of a twat anyway.
The carrier one
Pfft. I was more shocked by the Bernie Ecclestone corruption allegations.
So, there we have it. More of a lesson is link-bait and search-engine optimisation techniques by the Independent than anything.
You know what would constitute a really shocking print advert? Boris Johnson buggering a heron.