To paraphrase Elvis — Costello that is, “As I walk on through this wicked world, searching for light in the darkness of insanity, I ask myself, Is all hope lost? Is there only pain, and hatred, and misery? And each time I feel like this inside, there’s one thing I wanna know, what’s so funny ’bout peace, love, and the new Cadillac commercial?” (see the spot at the end of the article)

Now of course me being me I have to work in a pop culture reference, paying homage to Mr. Costello in the process and far be it for me to enter the political ring, as it were — but there is just an incredible amount of banter going around about this particular commercial I felt compelled to weigh in.

I reference the political slant because this one commercial has seemingly galvanized those on either side of the aisle as well as many in the marketing and advertising world.

On the site BizPac Review the headline on February 15th read Love it or hate it, Cadillac’s new ad creates big political controversy with the opening line reading “A new Cadillac ad has become a bone of contention between conservatives and liberals, inspiring fans and irritating critics.”

I’ve also seen these headlines as well:

  • Liberals Outraged by Cadillac Ad
  • Cadillac’s New “Conservative” Ad Has Liberals In A Tizzy
  • Why Liberals Have Their Panties In A Wad Over A Cadillac Commercial

The last one is my personal favorite for sure.

For the record, I am a liberal and I do not, repeat, do not wear panties. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So Why Is One Commercial So Politically Divisive?

In a recent Ad Age article Michael McCarthy breaks it down this way.

“Fans on the political right see [the commercial] as an unapologetic ode to American values. Critics on the political left see it as Ugly American chest thumping at its worst. During a time when Americans are working harder and longer for less money, others question the spot’s perceived workaholic message.”

Apparently however not even those on the same side are in agreement as to the benefits and virtues of the spot as Fox Business News contributor Jonathan Hoenig praised it calling it a “tremendous celebration of profit-seeking, productivity and, yes, enjoyment of material goods.”

But another member of the Fox family, Neal Cavuto, worried that the spot “feeds the negative perception of the richest 1% as smug, rich bastards who are contemptuous of everyone else.”

Then there is Carolyn Gregoire who in her Huffington Post piece Cadillac Made A Commercial About The American Dream, And It’s A Nightmare pulled no punches in writing:

“The luxury car company is selling a vision of the American Dream at its worst: Work yourself into the ground, take as little time off as possible, and buy expensive sh*t (specifically, a 2014 Cadillac ELR).”

Much Ado About Nothing?

Part of me is surprised as to the outrage and debate over this particular TV commercial whereas the other part of me is not surprised in the least.

After all, it’s what we do, isn’t it? We take something, in this case a TV commercial and we turn it into a political hotbed topic. Now we of course cannot stop those in the media on either side from spinning this any way they want.

And of course those of us in the marketing, advertising and branding worlds are going to chime in for this is what we do; what we live for. To share our thoughts and comments and so on a given commercial, campaign, Tweet or whatever.

But why?

Why can this not just be a TV commercial? Why is everything a political statement?

Isn’t the objective of marketing and advertising, at least one of them anyway, to reach your target market? To get your product, service or ware in front of those who are most inclined to purchase said product, service or ware?

Craig Bierley, Cadillac’s advertising director: “The spot’s targeted at customers who make around $200,000 a year. They’re consumers with a “little bit of grit under their fingernails” who ‘pop in and out of luxury’ when and how they see fit. These are people who haven’t been given anything. Every part of success they’ve achieved has been earned through hard work and hustle. One of the ways they reward themselves for their hard work is through the purchase of a luxury car,”

So if this is who this particular product featured in this particular spot is geared toward why then has there been and continue to be such a heated debate? Why are words such as “arrogant,” “myopic,” and “xenophobic” being bandied about in describing how people feel about it?

Why do I suddenly have the urge to climb the highest mountain and scream at the top of my lungs “It’s just a commercial! If you don’t like it, fine! Change the channel!”

I probably feel this way because I have always been fascinated by human nature; the psychology behind the reasons we do and say the things we do and say.

And perhaps it’s because I’m a simple guy in some ways. I mean, it’s just a commercial, right?

Oh yeah, for the record, I loved the commercial; loved it. I don’t really care about the real or perceived message it sends or anything even remotely dealing with that. I loved the spot for all the advertising reasons. The script was great. The delivery of the lead actor was pitch perfect. The production value was top notch.

Source: Forbes, Google Images