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Fun Controversy Around Cadillac Poolside Advert

Brilliant Ad – Controversy Worth its Weight In Gold  Cadillac, once the Standard of the World, has aired an outstanding ad for the Cadillac brand and the Cadillac ELR electric coupe.  It was first shown on the American broadcast for the Sochi Winter Olympics and more recently for the Oscars that aired on Sunday, March 2.  And what a controversy has ensued.  Cadillac’s agency Rogue created the Cadillac Poolside ad to espouse unbridled American confidence and showcase what Cadillac stands for.  In the process, the spot has left leaners and right leaners sniping against each other on numerous websites.  On Thursday, March 6, arch-conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh (click on the link to be taken to the transcript of the Limbaugh show about the Cadillac ad)  devoted the top of his second hour to the controversy the ad has created.  The Cadillac Poolside ad pushed a button that allowed Limbaugh to rant for about a half hour.

What Should Cadillac Do Now?  The worst thing Cadillac can do now that the spot has aired several times is to be apologetic and try to over-explain the subtleties of the message.  That is not who Cadillac should be.  Use the controversy to advantage and heavyweight the Cadillac Poolside ad across the airwaves.

The Story  Actor Neal McDonough (Band of Brothers, Desparate Housewives, Justified, Mob City) does an outstanding job of narration.  He’s a bit cocky, clearly proud of being an American and what being an American has allowed him to achieve.  He has a multi-million dollar post-modern house with a large lap pool out front.  He has two cute young daughters and a wife who is probably number two and ten to fifteen years younger.  The pace is great.  The production values are great.  The message is what Cadillac should be all about.  American luxury.  American achievement.  American belief that anything is possible.  Great stuff.

Only at the end, does MacDonough stroll out of the house in a well-tailored suit (during the first half of the commercial he is attired in shorts, a polo shirt and tennies without sox).  He pulls out the J1772 electric charging plug, disconnects a Cadillac ELR EV coupe and drives off.  The tag at the end does show the ELR – “The First Ever ELR”.  Next shot is the Cadillac shield without the laurel wreath, but the car in the spot has the old logo – shield and wreath.

The TranscriptHere is the text of the commercial…

“Why do we work so hard?  For what?  For this? (standing in front of his spectacular, tasteful pool)  For stuff?  Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the cafe.  They take August off.  OFF.  Why aren’t you like that?  Why aren’t we like that?   Because we are crazy, driven, hard working believers,  that’s why.  Those other countries think we are nuts.  Whatever.  Were the Wright Brothers insane?  Bill Gates?  Les Paul?  Ali?  Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon?  That’s right, we went up there and you know what we got?  Bored.  So we left.  Got a car up there and left the keys in it.  Do you know why?  Because we are the only ones going back up there, that’s why.  But I digress.  It’s pretty simple.  You work hard, you create your own luck.  And you gotta believe anything is possible.  As for all the stuff, that’s the upside for only taking two weeks off in August.

N’est pas? (with a wink)”

AutoPacific Staff Comments  Now, I am on the side of folks who really like this spot.  But after passing it around at AutoPacific, the reactions were pretty fun.  Here’s a sample (and we don’t edit for political correctness)…

Sixth Responder  My first viewing prompted a major double take.  The guy does come across as a robotic JO.  We’re for sure not going back “up there” now that Ozero has gutted the program, in favor of Muslim outreach, etc.   And Mars !!??  Oh, BTW, that’s a GM vehicle left moldering “up there.”  Wonder if anyone writing the copy knew that?  Just askin’
Fifth Responder  Some left-handed thoughts.
First off, it’s a re-Volting ad.
If the actor in this commercial was the “Duke,” would interest Wayne?
Yes, those Soviets are Russian around sending Americans into space.
And I am a fan of SpaceX.  But you do have to like the odor of Musk.
Final thought (or maybe not.)  What does this Caddylack?  A Volt price tag.
Everybody outta da pool!
Fourth Responder  I really like the spot.  It’s right where Cadillac should be in the minds of their buyers and their prospective buyers.  Love the house.  Kids are a bit too young for Neal and the wife’s probably his second because he was working so hard to get where he is with his first.  I hope she got a good alimony.  
Third Responder  Forget the facts. Think about this as how the agency handled the challenge they were handed of selling an overpriced variant of a Chevrolet (something sounds vaguely familiar here…..hmmmm), and the mindset of the target customer. I think the spot is brilliant and the copy is spot-on for the prospect. It’s not for me, but I watch it with a sense of respect for the writer/production team. These folks fall very well on one side of the socio-political debate the spot has generated, and the emotional appeal will have some rising out of their Ekornes recliners to go check out the ELR. Great production values. Talent choice is excellent. Hats off to Cadillac marketing and their agency. The product strategy for the car…..perhaps another discussion.
First Responder Again  How so? Also, even if we’re not talking about sending human astronauts, we’re certainly not the only ones sending stuff into space.
Second Responder  See, I thought the space thing was a weird jab at SpaceX.
First Responder  Yeah, it’s been controversial for sure! Personally, I think the guy comes off as a complete tool. He also gets completely wrong that “we’re the only ones going back up there” (to space). Nope. Our space program isn’t sending anyone into space. We pay upwards of $70M per astronaut to the Russians to send our people into space.
Anyways, if the result of the all that hard work is getting to drive a ridiculously overpriced Cadillac-badged Chevrolet Volt for $80K, I think I’d prefer a regular Volt, those nice cafes, and taking all of August off!

My Take  The reference to the moon landing is pretty gratutious.  Sure, only the USA has put men on the moon and we should be proud of that, but we didn’t leave a Lunar Rover up there so we could retrieve it and drive it again.  Given fiscal and political realities, any thought of going to the moon anytime soon (in American vehicles) is inconceivable.

The comments on how stupid he is to buy an overpriced ELR (instead of a Chevrolet Volt) are noted, but I think this car is a very discretionary purchase and represents petty cash for this guy.  It’s an asterisk in his budget.  Anyway, Cadillac would like you to think he has an Escalade for Mom and the kids and an XTS for him to drive clients around in.  Apparently, the ELR was a last minute switch to make the spot more palatable to some of the viewers.  If they had an newly introduced Escalade in front of McDonough’s house, the howls would have been even louder.

Nothing in this ad screams GREEN, so he probably acquired his ELR for its flash and not for environmental friendliness.  In reality, if he is really into EVs, one of the other vehicles is probably a Tesla Model S.

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