Car ads are almost uniformly bad because their intent is to highlight the car (invariably involving banal interior shots of the vehicle) rather than (something a person of my generation is more open to) showing a hip and/or slick and/or quirky lifestyle (e.g. VW with its youthful optimism soundtracked to music happening young people such as myself might listen to, Land Rover, Hummer -- even though I'm politically against the last two, they have aesthetically sound marketing (unfortunately)).
The HEMI campaign needs to be
That Audi joint with I, Robot is simply awful as well. CAR AND ROBOT MAGAZINE OMG GEDDIT? DIE.
To the good adverts then, since I don't to give bad ones any more airtime than they're currently getting:
Southwest's "Want to get away" campaign has been consistently brilliant (excepting the "DETROIT WE LOVE YOU" one, which only warrants a meh): the woman in the bathroom of a beau's finding on the sly some embarrassing ointment in his medicine cabinet and replacing the tube crashes all the shelves; the woman at work opening the "Pinkslip Virus" which identifies her as the instigating culprit; the man in the boardroom whose unseen cell phone earplug-headset elicits an awkward admission from a woman. (I'm forgetting a few, so if you've seen and remember others, let me know.)
I think the reason for the success of this campaign comes from its balance of the quotidian and absurdity -- how quickly the real (as in, we, the viewers, can for the most part imagine ourselves in the same (or similar) initial situations) slides so quickly and almost seamlessly into the absurd, which isn't inaccessible because these scenarios are worst-cases of the everyday.
Washington Mutual's commercials are also top-notch, amusing even after multiple viewings. Unlike Southwest, WM is firmly grounded in the absurd, though, importantly, with a heavy dose of energetic joviality that overcomes an potential smugness or cuteness.
Right now I'm kind of exhausted so, in a few weeks, look for part 2 of Leee's favorite ads.