Cadillac has been lampooned by Ford and criticised by others for “Poolside,” the 2014 ad for its electric-hybrid ELR that praises rich Americans who work constantly and enjoy material benefits such as “the upside of only taking two weeks off in August.”
Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s marketing chief, says he expected this kind of reaction.
“We are not daft,” he said in an interview at the New York Auto Show this week.
“We knew beforehand that we would break through the clutter, that we would capture a lot of attention, and we did,” Ellinghaus said. “We knew that this TVC [television commercial] had a point of view that not everybody would agree with.”
Ellinghaus said he was caught off guard, however, by “the cultural warfare” sparked by “Poolside” — heated debates over the merits of a workaholic culture. The Huffington Post called it “classist and greedy.” Slate deemed it “condescending.” USA Today asked if it was generating “rich-guy backlash.”
“I think this is almost unavoidable consequence if you have a strong message out that people either love it or hate it,” Ellinghaus told Business Insider, noting that the ad “had a point of view that we are American, this is a good thing, we are different.”
But he didn’t expect people to take it so seriously. “What I struggle with personally as an outsider and not being an American is I found far more twinkle in the eye in it,” he explained. “Where’s the humour, the irony? That got completely lost.”
As for Ford’s widely lauded parody of “Poolside,” an ad for the Focus C-Max Energi that
says making the world better is “the upside of giving a damn,” Ellinghaus calls it “terrific.”
“Copying is the sincerest form of flattering.”
And Ford’s parody.
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