Arrogant, inspiring or even both: What to make of Cadillac’s polarizing new TV commercial?

March 3, 2014

The new ELR. I got mine.

The loud guffaw over Cadillac’s new anthem TV commercial, which like many of you I at first hated, has prompted me to reconsider my position… or at least modify it somewhat.

Critics deemed the TVC elitist and arrogant. And it sort of is. A douche-y, type-A yuppie parades us through his McMansion on route to his new Caddly ELR in the ample driveway, all the while boasting about his just reward for busting ass in a tough world. He’s a go-getter straight out of the eighties and he makes no apologies for his material success. On the contrary, he’s damn proud of his many achievements, his car being one of them. “It’s simple,” he says. “You work hard. You make your own luck. And you’ve got to believe anything is possible.”

As I’ve indicated, many people found the commercial arrogant or at least wanting. Their criticisms are not without merit. The man is not likeable. Nor is his rant on earned privileges. The man also states, “Other countries don’t work so hard.” Ouch.

On the other side of things, the commercial’s defenders are having a tea party. They see the spot as an about-time ode to what makes America great. It is, they argue, the Horatio Alger story of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and “getting stuff done.” Which, if I’m not mistaken, is what Cadillac used to stand for back during, you know, the Greatest Generation.

And so the debate rages on. This story in AdAge gives you a sense of the uproar the spot caused and continues to cause.

Regardless of your take, you’ve got to give Cadillac credit for at least having the balls to strike this politically incorrect chord. It is not middling in its POV. It is not just another smarmy ode to luxury. In addition, the added publicity (positive and negative) has to be viewed as a good thing in terms of getting the brand noticed and talked about. The new school teaches us that great marketing must do more than just get noticed it must enter into the proverbial “conversation.” This commercial does so in spades.

You can’t hate me. I’m the American Dream!

Final note: Whatever gets said here, in AdAge or anywhere else: Please Cadillac, do not apologize for your commercial. For any of it. F—k ‘em. Make another. To thine own self be true. I’m so sick of our “sorry for everything” culture. Aren’t you? What is more insincere than “I’m sorry if I offended anyone?” Precious little. Frankly, I believe it is not in our nature to be politically correct. We merely pretend in order to keep our jobs and get invited to brunch.

7 Responses to “Arrogant, inspiring or even both: What to make of Cadillac’s polarizing new TV commercial?”

  1. petesharpe90 said

    Being in the UK I had not seen this advert. I actually don’t think they sell them in the UK or if they do they are very rare.I actually happen to like the advert. I’d say it’s more aspiration over arrogance. Maybe being from the UK I see it differently. Agree with you on the ad being talked about. Definitely something that will stoke emotion, which by your post you felt compelled to write it and me to respond; I guess it was successful in that respect.

    There is actually a print ad by the car manufacturer Bentley from the year 2000. Maybe you have seen it but I think it’s pretty funny. Link at the bottom if you want to take a look.

    Finally, thank you for sharing. Regards, Peter

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  3. eperaltacm said

    Reblogged this on eperaltacm.

  4. Marc said

    Richie Rich is the American Dream? In what way? The “I am born into great wealth so f*ck everbody else, I deserve it”? or in the “I’ve worked hard and made it”. If it is the latter, then perhaps you should have used some other icon besides Richie Rich. A few facts that contradict the docuhey Cadillac ad: Amercia has to pay the Russians to get us back up into space, that was not mentioned, nor was the fact that the U.S of A is ranked 13th in the index that ranks standard of living of industrialized nations, although we do rank above France (which I take it was the 5 weeks of vacation dig.)

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