For those of you who haven’t seen or heard about the recent “poolside” commercial for the Cadillac ELR, which was a viral hit on YouTube because of its controversial “American Pride” theme, watch it here:
In short: it features what Cadillac hopes will be a typical buyer of the ELR, a Plug-in Hybrid coupe which is technically based on the Chevrolet Volt / Opel Ampera, but will only be sold in North America, for a price tag that’s double that of the Volt. It starts with the actor standing in his bermuda shorts by the pool of his $4 million home, asking why “we” work so hard (although I don’t see any callus on his hands) and talking about how the Americans take only two weeks off in August while other countries spend the whole month with their lazy asses on the beach. Then he starts bragging about Bill Gates, Les Paul and nobody but the Americans flying to the moon, as if those compare at all to a rebadged, would-be luxury automobile with warmed-over technology that’s been on the market for over three years, and a price tag that will make it more of a low-volume fashion statement than a world savior. Meanwhile the ad is showing the “perfect” American family, dad giving high five to his teenage daughter, who’s at an age that she really shouldn’t give a shit about what he says and thinks. I’m surprised he doesn’t slap his wife’s bottom while walking past her, as that would’ve made his character complete. Then he makes a swift change of clothes into his business suit, while spitting out a few self-help one-liners on success and wealth. It all ends with a hint that it’s the French he was talking about, while showing the sleaziest of winks you’ll ever see.
You really have to watch it a few times to believe this is real. You’d think after the recent financial crisis and the record debt of the US government, the Americans would be a bit more humble about themselves, especially General Motors, who needed a government bailout to re-emerge from bankruptcy, but this ad is just dripping with complacency, smugness and ego-tripping. I guess what GM tried to do, was send out a message of “American pride”, like the Chrysler Superbowl commercials of the past three years. Only they’ve gone way over the top with this, it’s almost as if the ad is already a parody by itself. Except it isn’t, some marketeers actually thought this would strike a chord with the general public.
So I was glad to see Ford made a parody on the ad, featuring the Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid and promoting a good cause in the process. The actress in the ad is the actual founder of Detroit Dirt, a company that collects compost from restaurants and manure from zoos to turn into fertile dirt, which is then used to “turn forgotten parcels of land in Detroit into urban farms that not only feed, but revitalize the community.” Calling the ad “Upside” is just another stab at General Motors, and hopefully this video and the #upside hash tag go even more viral than the Cadillac “Poolside” video.
It’s not only a very funny parody, but it’s also a big finger to the slick Wall Street/Silicon Valley millionaires who think they are doing good for the environment by buying an electric or hybrid car, while still flying business class to a sales meeting and who think they are doing good for their community by supporting the local football club, while sending their children off to a private school “so they don’t have to mingle with the populace”. And you know what, the real do-gooders don’t even take 2 weeks off in August, because spending two weeks on a beach is not fulfilling their passion for making the world a better place. For all of us, not just for themselves.