Provocative Cadillac: rescuing the brand from bland (my latest at HBR)

elr-ad-spot-winkCadillac’s new spot Poolside is exploding. It shows a guy walking through his beautiful home musing on American virtues, values, and accomplishments. It debuted during the Superbowl and played again Sunday night during the Oscars.

Naturally, the world went ballistic. These days, in our ideologically conflicted moment, we can’t say anything about the American experiment with provoking supporters, denigrators, and a great storm of controversy.

Poolside is a celebration of hard work, risk taking, and American exceptionalism. For good measure, it goes after the French, those lazy so-and-sos who linger in cafés and take August off. Our hero (played by Neal McDonough) scorns these continental layabouts and counts up American accomplishments, including the trip to the moon. “Got a car up there. And we left the keys in it. You know why? Because we’re the only ones going back.”

Some said, “Bravo! Finally someone prepared to give voice to the things that made this country great.” Others said that this ad is an evocation of the ugly American, materialist America, and the dreadful 1%.

The marketing question is simple. Why is this ad going where angels fear to tread? Surely Cadillac and Rogue, the agency, knew that they were going to stir things up, that Poolside was going to go all cannon ball.

For the rest of the post, please go here to the Harvard Business Review Blog where it originally appeared.

My salute to the creatives didn’t make it into the HBR post.  I note them here.

Marketing Team at Cadillac:

Craig Bierley, advertising director

Uwe Ellinghaus, CMO, Global Cadillac

Alan Batey, GM Vice President, U.S.

Creative team at Rogue:

 Brennan Stasiewicz

Chief Creative Officer 
Lance Jensen

Executive Creative Director 
David Banta

Group CD / Art Director
 Kevin Daley

 Lance Jensen

David Banta

George Meeker

Executive Producer
 Jeff Miller

Agency Producer 
Paul Shannon