There's only so far you can go with the underdog angle in ads. It worked for Chrysler after the bankruptcy. It works for small companies like Mazda sometimes. It's a little harder to go attacking other countries when you used to call yourself "The Standard of the World."
The Cadillac ELR is no underdog. Really, it's in a class of one. That class is a range-extender luxury coupe, and one that costs $76,000 at that.
The ad for it called "Poolside" features Neal McDonough – the pride of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood who once played Nicolette Sheridan's creepy husband on Desperate Housewives – as the typical electric car buyer. Well, the typical Palo Alto electric car buyer with a $3.5 million home. And he's apparently all about hard work.
"Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the cafe. They take August off. Off.
We're crazy, driven hard-working believers. Those other countries think we're nuts. Whatever."
They think we're nuts for other reasons. But hey, they can go eat sheep pancreas, I'll add more cheese to things and we'll call it even.
Neal, unfortunately, compares the ELR to Les Paul, Microsoft, landing on the moon and so on. That's going too far. It's all so smug-feeling. Smug in a way that makes you feel gross after watching the whole 60-second spot.
Not surprisingly, this ad was on Friday night between the coverage of the Opening Ceremonies for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. There was less flag waving when the U.S. team walked out than in this ad.
Cadillac may be an underdog in the luxury class. We've concluded their new ATS and CTS sedans are just as good (if not better) than some of the mainstays called 3-series and E-Class, to name but a couple.
There's something though that hits so wrong in this ad. And I'm not getting all against the ELR. It's absurdly priced, but it looks great up close. It's a striking piece of design that just happens to carry some interesting (not groundbreaking) technology underneath. It's a coupe, and it works as a style statement.
I don't know who this ad resonates with either? Old Cadillac buyers who believe these amazing American achievement claims probably aren't interested in a plug-in Caddy anyway. New Cadillac buyers from Palo Alto probably just bought a Tesla anyway.
BMW, on the other hand, has the i3 that's made out of carbon fiber and sustainable interior materials. Soon they'll have the i8, which is a three-cylinder turbocharged sports car that leaves the ELR in its dust with its cool looks. Even the key for the i8 is awesome.
The key on the ELR is largely similar to the one you get on a $33,000 ATS.
So, again, where was the extra two weeks in August spent?