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.