The Shortlist: Cadillac and Ford Aren’t Just Selling Cars

Vintage GM ad

ADVERTISING

Cadillac says “America, Fuck Yeah!”


Cadillac debuted this controversial commercial during NBC’s broadcast of the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Drawing praise from the political right, and criticism from the political left, the commercial goes on about what is great about America… namely, being white and rich, and the privilege that comes with that. In GM’s case, that privilege means being able to pay lip-service to the values of hard work and self-reliance even as you take a government bailout funded by taxpayers.

But I understand. They are pitching an electric car to the heartland of America here. Cadillac needs to do everything they can to convince their target market that an electric car isn’t just for dirty, vegan-eatin’, Atheist, hippie liberals.


ADVERTISING

Ford says to Cadillac “Bitch Please!”

This commercial from Ford on the other hand delivers a vision of America that isn’t just a conservative circle-jerk fiction. Instead of a white male actor for the lead, Ford profiles an actual businesswoman and her actual company which is doing actual good. The brand tie-ins couldn’t have been more harmonious.


CASE STUDY

GM sold us on a comeback. Don’t buy a CEO’s apology – buy cars that are safe

Before deciding which vision of America you want to put your dollar behind, consider the money and placement behind these two spots.

The Cadillac ad debuted on national television, during the Olympics, a time of increased nationalism. The commercial was placed on the Cadillac YouTube channel, where it currently sits and continues to gain views (nearing 2million)

The Ford ad on the other hand looks like it won’t see any broadcast air time at all. And it doesn’t appear on the official Ford channel. Ford’s reluctance to put this message out in front of a larger audience doesn’t say much for how well they think it would be received.