Advertising: A Lesson from Cars 3

Written by
February 12, 2024

An unlikely fable for advertising was put forth in the latest installment of Pixar’s beloved Cars franchise, which returned to cinemas last month.

Once again picking up the story of scarlet stock car racer Lightning McQueen, Cars 3 explores the emergence of a new generation of cars and the choices that many athletes face when considering retirement from sport and second careers.

The opening shots for the trailer show McQueen examining a large collection of influencer merchandise bearing his name and face, and being told that he is about to become ‘the biggest brand in racing’, which is met with McQueen’s dismay.

That the lead character of the Cars series would balk at the idea of product endorsement may initially seem to be ironic, given the vast majority of the franchises’ $10bn revenue has come from merchandise, but ultimately it highlights the importance of advertising that resonates with both brands and audiences.

Cars 3 promotional image (C) Disney

No one, McQueen included, likes it when advertising gets in the way of what you enjoy, whether that be racing, playing games or catching up on the latest entertainment news. Steps are currently being taken across the industry to prevent intrusive adverts and minimise the damage they can do, for example in driving ad blocking.

To avoid such problems and create interactions that are true to the aims of our clients, sites and their audiences we regularly create bespoke solutions. We seek to ensure that brands are advertised in inventive ways whilst not compromising the integrity of the sites and apps we look after.     

We are thrilled that our first full-screen immersive takeover with Disney of the year is themed around Cars 3. The campaign marks one of our regular clients embracing a new and high impact advertising format that engages audiences and has the potential to enhance their experience online.

Ultimately advertising is a vital revenue for advertisers and publishers alike that contributes to the availability of free online content. It is at its worst when it detracts from something you love but, much like the motto of Cars 3 being the fastest or the biggest does not compare to expertise.