The Hooniverse Staff Reviews the New Cadillac Ad

Sometime at the beginning of the prior weekend, I saw a few folks post a link to what is apparently a new ad for Cadillac. It unfolds in New York City, and it doesn’t show you one single Cadillac vehicle. Instead, you’re riding along in a car taking in the sights of the city while a voice reads the text from an excerpt of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech entitled “Citizenship in a Republic”.
I’ll tell you right up front… I hate this ad. I know that Cadillac feels they need to revise their naming scheme, relocate to NYC, and reach a new audience. They certainly don’t need to (and shouldn’t) pander to enthusiasts, as we’re a niche market. You know who else doesn’t buy a lot of cars? The people who live in Manhattan or Brooklyn. They take cabs and ride the subway, or hop on their bikes, and they also walk. That’s just a small part of what I dislike about this new ad.
Am I wrong here? That’s certainly possible, so I posed a question to the rest of the Hooniverse crew. I asked them what they thought of the ad (over a weekend, when some of them could’ve been drunk…) and I’m going to post those replies after the jump.

“I don’t even know what I just saw.”
-Kamil Kaluski
“I fail to understand what they are trying to accomplish with that ad. I majored in advertising and I don’t even fucking understand it.”
-Bradley Brownell
“I think they’re finally apologizing for the Cimarron?”
-Ann Morey
“I’m pretty drunk right now and cant even. Is it the rum or was this that fucking terrible??”
-Greg Kachadurian
(Follow up from me after that: “Also going in (best answer yet)”, with Greg’s reply “It took me a while to type that out so it better”)
“Infiniti called, they want their nonsensical zen garden back:

And by the way, this is how to properly do the “read poetry for a car ad” ad:

-Tim Odell
“I watched the first 20 seconds, then bought a used yellow Ford Escape.”
-Ray Lindenburg
“It just got me confused and slightly disoriented. But that’s OK because I guess the traditional Caddy buyer is confused and disoriented.”
-Chris Haining
“Okay, first off: at :57, that’s Lisa Catera.
The biggest problem with this spot is that it makes driving through New York City seem uncomfortably strange and creepy, and that transfers to the product – creep Cadillac. It also implies that the product – from which all of this is apparently shot – is so ordinary that no one takes notice of it. Why not include some shots of target buyers nodding appreciatively at the camera as it passes? Instead it feels like an ad for one of those Left Behind movies.
Also, Dare Greatly? That sucks. Why on earth would I need to take a great leap of faith to buy a car? Are Cadillacs that much of a purchase risk these days? I would l think that Dare Greatness would have been a better choice.”
-Rob Emslie
“I think the message is that walking down the sidewalk is ten times more awesome than driving a car. Wait, what?”
“Who would thunk that it would be Cadillac that killed the car, instead of Google or Apple?”
-Ray Lindenburg
“DeLorenzo actually likes something GM for a change.
-John “LongRoofFan” Lee
“Alright, so I built up the courage to watch this again completely sober.
[Serious response]
I agree with the other responses about the stupidity of the message itself but I mostly hate the way it was all put together. I hate the random sound effects coming in and out abruptly that ultimately serve no purpose, usually have nothing to do with what’s on screen, and take away from the main speech that this video is all about. I especially hate that some clips are slowed down while others aren’t; it’s inconsistent. The video itself is kinda forgettable but it could have worked if the audio wasn’t an abortion. Bottom line is this feels like it was put together by an amateur.[I’m bored response]
This is how I imagine this video came to be:

  • Cadillac marketing team hires intern for the winter break.
  • Cadillac gives said intern a new advertisement as an assignment with very broad guidelines.
  • Just one rule: NO CARS.
  • Intern has no experience with video editing whatsoever and thinks The Room is the greatest movie ever.
  • Intern watches video editing tutorials from some kid named XxScopedxAssassinxX, a sixth grader who has prestiged in every Call of Duty game to date 187 times.
  • Intern is inspired and spends every waking hour working on this masterpiece, throwing random sound effects in because that’s what gets you those subscribers y0.
  • ???
  • End of the internship, this video is presented to some managers who just got out of a 4 hour meeting about how Cadillac needs “dynamic new paint colors” or something.
  • Managers’ standards are so low that they truly believe this is the greatest thing they’ve ever seen.
  • Everyone in the room gets goosebumps and starts crying from all the epic.
  • One of them even gives birth right there in the room and names the baby after the intern.
  • ​This video becomes a rallying force within Cadillac and they eventually show it to the CEO.
  • He becomes overwhelmed with joy and immediately orders that the Cien and Elmiraj go into production.
  • Marketing team gets super excited and puts this on YouTube and pays to have it featured in pre-roll advertisements on every video, because everyone loves pre-rolls.
  • Everyone else realizes it’s complete shit and now Hooniverse is making fun of it.”

-Greg Kachadurian
“In criticizing this seemingly nonsensical Cadillac ad, we’re playing right into their hands. It’s not us critics who matter, it’s the people out there making the cars, filming the ads who deserve the credit (or, implicitly, the blame). This is like when Kevin Smith said, when “Jersey Girl” was panned by critics, that it wasn’t made for them. Maybe, like that one Alanis Morissette song that might actually be ironic, this is actually a good Cadillac ad when it doesn’t seem like a Cadillac ad at all.
It seems the automaker, by reciting prose borrowed from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship in a Republic,” managed to get one step ahead of us.”
-Alan Cesar
So there you have it. That’s our view of this new ad for Cadillac. Maybe we’re all wrong here, and this new direction will be a great success for the brand. Maybe though, we’re a bit sad to see a company that’s building some great cars create a commercial that highlights an absence of those very machines.
Cadillac used to build the greatest cars on the planet. Things went sour for awhile, but the current lineup is quite impressive. The Escalade has become a proper luxury SUV, the ATS is the perfect entry point for the brand, and there exists a CTS variant capable of hitting 200 miles per hour while still retaining a dash of luxury inside its cabin space.
Cadillac doesn’t need a speech from 1910 to rally up buyers and upgrade its brand image. It just needs to show off the products that it’s making right here in 2015.
Maybe instead of Dare Greatly, I’d like to see Drive Greatly… and the cars that go with that.
Pre-Post-Er, Whatever-Update: Cadillac ran a second ad during the Oscars (which is where the original first hit TV, it arrived on the Internet earlier). This ad was much better in my opinion because it showed an actual car, as well as people who have done big things in this world.
The car Cadillac has shown? It’s an early look at the new CT6. Horrible name, but it’s certainly a looker.

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  1. Stu_Rock Avatar

    I also don’t understand this ad campaign. It doesn’t resonate with me at all, and I’m even a little turned off by some of the associations in this and other recent Cadillac ads. It’s even a little uncomfortable since I’m actually considering purchasing an ATS–it’s as if Cadillac has no clue who I am and what my aspirations are.
    Jeff’s right that Cadillac needs to show off the products it’s making right now. They must be discouraged seeing their passenger cars having poor sales numbers despite being as good as the competition and priced lower–making them feel like they need to get a big message out to the public. In reality, though, Cadillac’s reputation will come as a result of product discipline: years of consistently being the standard of the world will be the way the brand gets incorporated into people’s lifestyle aspirations. That’s the thing about aspirations–people hold them dear, so the price of entry for a brand is a long history of achievement.
    On the other hand, it’s a whole lot easier to get a product onto someone’s shopping list. As a car buyer, I look for a vehicle that best fits a particular service envelope, and it seems like that’s also the case for the other professional types I know who could afford a Cadillac. As an enthusiast, my service envelope is pretty different that other people’s, but the point remains. There’s really very little of this aspirational bullshit involved (which is why I ultimately don’t care about the ads). But getting the cars onto people’s shopping lists will move the metal if the product is good (and it is), and that’s how the reputation gets built for future aspirational buyers.
    In short, just show the damn cars.

  2. mr smee Avatar
    mr smee

    I thought it was a brilliant tribute the original Infiniti “don’t show the car” ad, which hobbled them right out of the gate while Lexus did the champagne-glasses on the hood ad. I seriously think Caddy needs to go the comedy route in their ads to separate them from the gravitas school of luxury car advertising. They could be self-deprecating and refer to land-yaughts, donks, pimp-mobiles, lowriders. THey could have fun with it and stretch it inot a full year campaign.

    1. Devin Avatar

      I’m not sure going funny is the best idea – though they did attempt that with the terrible ELR ad about how being a rich douche is super cool – but they might need to fire their ad agency.
      I think they need to do the old trick of hiring a prominent, talented director with a knack for memorable images, give them a car and creative freedom. Say what you will for those odd Matthew McConaughey Lincoln ads, but they did move metal – sales increased by 25% the month after – and part of that has to be Nicolas Winding Refn knows how to make a car look good. The one thing that this ad doesn’t understand – whatever the message, whoever is on screen, you’re still trying to sell cars, so shoot it in a way that makes people want to drive what you’re putting on screen, so put the cars on screen.

  3. Maymar Avatar

    I haven had the chance to watch the ads yet, but I sort of get the NYC angle – it doesn’t matter if people in NYC buy all that many cars, it just needs to matter that NYC resonates with the target audience. You know how for the past decade or so, the Nurburgring has established itself as the talking point for any driver’s car? I see New York as the same idea for the de rigure iPhone/Starbucks/I don’t know clothing labels well enough to insert a third point here. Still, it’s one of those things where the car itself is secondary to establishing the desired image and lifestyle.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Why not Seattle, San Francisco or Portland?
      It’s a curious, honest question, not trying to joke here. NYC has been itself for so long, and Cadillac tries to attach itself to something…fresh…I assumed.

      1. Maymar Avatar

        I don’t know, I think by virtue of specifically wanting to position themselves as a luxury brand, NYC is a more obvious choice (it doesn’t hurt that it’s in the same time zone as the guys at the RenCenter in Detroit either).
        Admittedly, my two other examples hail from Silicon Valley (which is a more natural fit for Tesla) and Seattle (spiritual home to Subarus, apparently).

  4. Fred Avatar

    I liked the Audi ads. This just puts me to sleep, but at least they aren’t yelling at me like all those pickup truck ads.

  5. Sjalabais Avatar

    What an awful marketing gibberish. “Dare greatly”, to “at least fail”? Well…ambitious?
    I was hoping when Cadillac first relocates and tries to do an effort, they come up with something.
    Not even Cadillac knows what they’re supposed to convey.

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Oops, oversaw the second ad. I agree it’s much better, but the big point is still missing. I mean…”reinvent” and it still is a very clear continued theme of an age-old Cadillac design? I’d also say that, opposed to today’s Hooniverse Asks, Cadillac should connect better with its past.

  6. alex Avatar

    Pretentious and annoying. Makes me NOT want whatever they’re selling. Smug. Smarmy.

    1. Devin Avatar

      Of course, they seem to be selling rides in Toyota taxis and walking in slow motion, both things you wouldn’t do in a Cadillac, the tricky geese.

  7. Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar

    I don’t like the angular crap they’ve been doing since the first-gen CTS.
    Losing the wreath was another nail in the coffin.
    I AM their demographic, and they’re pissing me off. Mid-to-late-40’s, no kids, decent income, long-time Cadillac owner (though all land yachts, previously).
    After my ’05 STS is done, probably another 130K miles, I’ll have to change my screen name, because unless I see a high-powered, RWD, land yacht before then, I’m gone*.
    *likely around 2019-2020 and probably to either an ’07-’09 Jaaaaaag Super V8 Portfolio or hopefully a Grand Cherokee Hellkitty…maybe an E- or S-classe AMG.

  8. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    cadillac ranch will never be the same. and this ad wasn’t even put down in “car and driver” lte/feedback letters, how sad that real money was spent on it….wait a minute…speaking of GM and targeted demographics, it seems GM has it’s sights aimed at those high maintenance arrogant stone waste of white women who curl up in benzes and bitch about the wine being not just right.