Cadillac's New Campaign for ELR is an Ode to American Innovation

Posted by Dale Buss on February 17, 2014 10:12 AM

Cadillac's aggressively American "Poolside" commercial being shown during the Sochi Olympics already was essentially in the can when Uwe Ellinghaus took over as the brand's CMO a few months ago, so his practical influence on the controversial tone of the ad was limited.

But there was one big decision he could still make to affect the commercial that stars Neal McDonough as an American who's proud of his American work ethic, American-style material success, and American car that demonstrates why Americans have it all over lazy Europeans—and European luxury car brands.

Ellinghaus told brandchannel it was he who decided to have the ad tout the new Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid rather than another model he didn't identify. The timing of the sales launch of the car would coincide perfectly with the brand's Sochi sponsorship and the debut of the commercial, he concluded.

And besides, what better chance to get traction for his repositioning of the Cadillac brand than to underscore its most technologically advanced and adventurous product to date?

"It's the most progressive statement Cadillac has in the market," Ellinghaus said. "So I said, why don't we use this 'Poolside' commercial for ELR?" During tentpole events such as the Olympics, he said, "You have a reach that you have on very few other occasions during the year."

In his few months at Cadillac after coming over from BMW marketing and brand strategy, Cadillac has posted a 22 percent increase in 2013 sales over 2012, and has garnered kudos for its new ATS and CTS. But Ellinghaus has determined that "we need to build desirability for Cadillac and surprise people positively in ways they've never seen Cadillac before. And this TV commercial is slightly polarizing and bold for sure."

Ellinghaus also wanted to make sure that, in this era when the all-electric Tesla Model S is finding strong appeal for electromobility among luxury-car buyers, there was no mistaking in "Poolside" that Cadillac was promoting its own electrified vehicle, which essentially is a highly refined and differentiated sibling of the Chevrolet Volt.

"I thought it would be a nice surprise effect if it featured the car that was visibly recognizable as one with an electric drivetrain," Ellinghaus explained. "So [McDonough] unplugs it" in the ad. "It's a deliberate decision I made."

Cadillac sold only 41 ELR units in January, its first month of availability. But if Ellinghaus, McDonough and the brawny new ad running during the Olympics have any influence, US dealers will be moving a lot more ELRs beginning in February.


jack bush United States says:

Cadillac, you should be ashamed of yourself. You make me embarrassed to be American.

February 20, 2014 12:04 AM #

Deidre Larrabee United States says:

This is the most shameful advertising I have ever seen! And to think it would be aired during the Olympics!  I hope the world knows better!  This is not what America stands for!

February 20, 2014 10:04 AM #

Chris burt United States says:

I could not agree more. This greasy sleaze ball plays the part of the  type of American that all real Americans despise. Entitlement, condensation, elitism. And to think the jerks that put this piece of crap together had the nerve to somehow bring the Ramones into it!

My immediate reaction after first viewing was that this dirt bag probably belongs in prison along Bernie Madoff. Oh, wait a minute, I think Madoff DID drive a Cadillac!

The worst advertisement ever to be aired in a prime time situation.

I, and anybody with half a brain, will now and forever equate Cadillacs with assholes.

(Excuse the misspellings).

February 20, 2014 11:53 PM #

Evan Lord United States says:

Shame?  For having pride and confidence in oneself?  Do real Americans despise the ideals of hard work, determination, and competition?  How do you get entitlement, condescension, and elitism from this spot?  In fact, the whole ad demonstrates the exact opposite of those three things.  Pay attention to what he's saying: "Why aren't you like that?  Why aren't we like that?"  He's referring to a strong work ethic and he's including all Americans.  Being rewarded for hard work is not entitlement.  And inclusion is not condescension nor elitism.  This spot celebrates American ideals and it upsets you all so much because that's no longer socially acceptable.  And so what if it pokes fun at Europeans?  You think Europeans have never poked fun at Americans?  I'm someone with half a brain.  In fact, I have a full brain.  And I, for one, am ecstatic that Cadillac is willing to take a risk and give us an image of a wealthy American who actually breaks the mold of the entitled, condescending elitist.  I'm sure the elitists will all be sticking with their BMWs and Mercedes anyway...

February 21, 2014 02:31 PM #

Maureen United States says:

This ad celebrates (and validates!) the global view of Americans as full of arrogant hubris. It was painful to watch.

February 24, 2014 11:55 AM #

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February 20, 2014 03:34 AM #

Nicole Johnson United States says:

Cadillac's going to have a tough time against the German luxury cars.

February 20, 2014 12:33 PM #

Evan Lord United States says:

Not sure where you're getting that idea...  They're already gaining on them:

February 21, 2014 12:54 PM #

Erp para industrias Brazil says:

That pretty much fantastic car

February 20, 2014 12:42 PM #

Warren Wagner United States says:

Love the ad!  I would buy a Cadillac based on that alone except for your sell out to Obama. Too bad for both of us.

February 20, 2014 09:56 PM #

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February 22, 2014 01:34 AM #

Patricia Mace United States says:

re Olympic ad  -   call me old fashioned,  but it's not polite to insult others;  if I were French, I happen to be English and an American,  the ad wouldn't compel me to buy this Cadillac for that reason alone.  
WORLD PEACE is the ONLY important ideal  NOT BUYING A CADILLAC !
The Olympics is for that very ideal -  the very example of everyone getting along.

I like Cadillacs - what a fantastic history - but I see no reason for this rudeness at this time.
I'm sure the French love the fact that their industry leaders give them a month off - maybe
American workers wouldn't mind also.

February 22, 2014 10:52 AM #

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