Has the anti-hero come to advertising’s rescue?

It appears a take no prisoners attitude is emerging as the latest advertising trend. First Barbie. Now Cadillac. The two most talked about, written about ads of the last month share an in your face “I don’t really care what you think,” approach to selling that seems inspired by the likes of Ray Donovan or Patty Hewes. Remember the days of Bill Cosby?

They seem to declare, “This is who we are, you know who you are, let’s get together. Screw the rest of them if they can’t take a joke.”

Frank Sinatra would should be singing in his grave.

Some students and I shared thoughts on Barbie a week or so ago. So let’s focus on Cadillac and its new Poolside spot.

In short, it’s brilliant.

While most advertising plays it safe, Poolside does not play it safe.

While most advertising avoids controversy, Poolside seeks controversy.

While most advertising is instantly forgettable, Poolside lodges itself in your memory.

And while all advertising struggles valiantly to portray genuine human truth but fails far too often, Poolside captures truth with a pitch perfect persona and representation.

I know I’m late to this conversation, so there’s no need to rehash all that’s been said. But a couple of points are worth noting.

First, this is not a commercial about American pride or about celebrating the one percent as some early reviews suggested.  It’s a commercial about the Cadillac owner and the type of person who belongs in that club. That’s a big part of what brands are all about, yes?

Others in the automotive category have tried to capture their user this well. Mini (via CP&B) did a good job 10 years ago with the original Let’s Motor campaign, and Toyota (via Deutsche) earned praise for its Swagger Wagon. But Poolside somehow nails it.

The script, the confidence, the attitude, and the unapologetic approach to working, aspiring and achieving is a genuine reflection of doers. There are lots of people, some admirable some despicable, who embrace this attitude. They may have their detractors. They may end up with a bigger piece of the pie. They may earn way too much money. But they represent a determination to succeed. Good for them. If that’s what you want more power to you.

Cadillac and Rogue weren’t afraid to recognize that mindset and associate their brand with it. And in case you haven’t noticed, look at the damn car. It’s sharp (as in pointed), aggressive, and forceful. Seems like an ideal match.

Lesson for brands?

  • Don’t try to be all things to all people.
  • Stay true to your DNA.
  • Understand and celebrate your most loyal user.
  • Stop worrying so much about what the critics have to say. Fuck ‘em.

It’s an approach that may not appeal to everyone. But it will certainly connect with those who share your mindset. And it may actually make your advertising relevant. No small feat.

My guess is that when Neal McDonough goes into his bedroom, where he magically changes out of shorts into a business suit that there was a copy of the Sports Illustrated bathing suit issue on his bedside table.

 

18 comments
SEO in Chennai
SEO in Chennai

The idea is to grab the attention nevertheless of hero or anti hero

jakesulli
jakesulli

Way late to this, but there is a deeper question not being asked.  Does the spot change or influence the target demo's opinion on electric vehicles?  Because that is the leap the spot is asking them to make.  It's American Exceptionalism with an electric car thrown in at the end.  Tough sell.

TwoHeadVideo
TwoHeadVideo

@GregPAsh so much "u have to believe anything is possible" electric Cadillac? out of my bracket but that's the point finger to me work more

SpartanGomez
SpartanGomez

It's great advertising on so many levels.  Not only is it short, sweet, and to the point but it's well targeted with a splash of controversy.  The targeting of this ad and the splash of controversy is what really makes it great.  People will bitch and moan at the message this gives off. Leaving the targeted audience to be on the defensive thus further identifying themselves with the message.

katgordon
katgordon

When I watched this spot for the first time, I had 2 thoughts that occurred almost simultaneously: "They are most definitely not speaking to me" and then "They are most definitely speaking to someone." The boldness and assuredness of the message + delivery stand apart. My only lingering question: are there enough of "them" out there to justify this brand positioning?

coughter
coughter

Edward, I couldn't agree more. The commercial is brilliant. It is right on brand. It's wonderfully written and produced with care. It is the best thing Cadillac has done in a long, long time.

GregWood
GregWood

@edwardboches Great take.  Spot made me pay attention and I did start looking up comments to find out what other people thought of it. I found it slightly unsettling and had the  thought that if people from other countries see this spot their fears of the ugly american will be realized. Spot took guts and your point of selling to the Cadillac owner and the type of people that belong in the club is dead on.  That said, you damn well better know that persona before you go as bold as Cadillac did.  In my case, I made the conclusion that I am not that person but that is OK, it forced me to make  judgement.  Here is hoping that Rogue did the research and got it right and that Cadillac doesn't wimp out and change direction or agencies at the slightest sign of dissent or fear from the guys and gals in the corner offices in Detroit.  It would be disheartening to see a "melba toast" spot six months from now.

betsyhickman
betsyhickman

@edwardboches Love The Damages. But more brands channeling Patty Hewes would be unsettling. Do we really want the anti-hero?

TweetingButler
TweetingButler

@edwardboches Restaurants selling $150 steaks, lavish kitchen appliances, Whole Food prices..."haves" buy here. Flaunt it. You've made it!

SpartanGomez
SpartanGomez

@logantanner  I'm sorry but there is no argument in that article you linked.  Reads like an emotional angsty teenager who has huge self-importance issues and a "holier than thou" attitude. 

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@katgordon  Good question. I am going to guess yes on two fronts. 1. The actual demo. 2. Those who share the sentiment. With 300 Plus million folks in the US, there's got to be at least a few million and that would be a good number of cars to sell.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@betsyhickman @edwardboches  Valid point. But we do need more brands to take a more focused stance. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. I like that Cadillac and Barbie have staked out their ground. Both are #unapologetic.

edwardboches
edwardboches moderator

@TweetingButler @edwardboches  It's a mindset. We (not me but most) sure seem to admire athletes and movie stars whose incomes far exceed their contributions to society in any way shape or form.

SpartanGomez
SpartanGomez

@logantanner @SpartanGomez  Oh man I didn't even know copyranting existed and I'm glad I didn't.  A rant is just that though, a rant.  There is no argument in an emotional, heavily opinionated piece with obscenities and even if there is any valid points the seriousness of it is lost in everything else.