Cadillac launched a new commercial for the Olympics that really got under my skin! I waited for a week to see if I was still irritated enough to post a “ranty” blog, and I am, so here we go! This ad for the new Cadillac ELR essentially proclaims that the achievements and greatness of the United States of America rests in the fact that we don’t rest. Check it out here if you haven’t seen it.
The crowning comment of the spot for me was “as for all the stuff, that’s what you get for only taking two weeks off in August.” Wow. Really? The advertisers did a good job of making the ELR look sexy, sleek and amazing to own, but I was irritated by the storyline on at least three levels.
The first was the pervasive idea in our culture that taking time off or resting diminishes your earning potential.
Admittedly this was perhaps enhanced by the fact that I first saw the ad while taking one of my prescribed “two weeks” according to Cadillac! Assessing how very tired I was, I am sensing how much creativity and life is lost by pushing too hard and not choosing to rest. I also did battle on my first day of vacation with the deeply ingrained philosophy that this ad was promoting. I am hyper responsible and struggle with allowing myself to truly “get away and enjoy” vacation. I read books about choosing to be unplugged and really letting down, but sadly I have only done that successfully once in the past 20 years that I can recall. I do okay on weekends usually, but not when I am away on holiday during “regular work hours.”
My staff makes comments on this when we go away because they know that I am better when I am rested and they don’t want me to spend a week away worrying about the office or the clients. “Let go….let us handle it….we’ll call if there is an emergency.” They are right of course, but the struggle is there and ads like this reinforce the warped thinking that time off equals laziness or will lead to mediocrity.
The second was thinking about how many people work year round and never even hope to achieve the luxury that this spot presents as somehow normal for hard working Americans.
“Just work hard and you can have all this too” is a bit mis-stated! Others can write much more eloquently than I can on this topic, but to even suggest that the multi-million dollar home represented in this ad is somehow intrinsically tied to working hard and only taking two weeks off just makes me want to throw up. The incredible insensitivity to the reality of the majority of working Americans was downright offensive in my opinion.
The third was the ever present arrogance we manage to put out there as the great USA and believe is okay.
Do we really think that other countries don’t have wealth or achievement? Do we really believe that everyone who has it here in the U.S. came by it honestly because of their incredible hard work and driven nature? I am passionate about America and about entrepreneurship and I do believe this country provides opportunities that others don’t. I get choked up during the National Anthem and I’m not even a citizen. The USA has been amazing to me and I believe we are one of the best nations in the world. Even so, I am regularly discouraged by the blatant arrogance, even if we were meant to see it as humor.
I rarely get hot under the collar about advertising. I’m in the business and I give a lot of leeway to other agencies, especially big ones, who are trying to do something unique and noteworthy for their high paying accounts. This time though, I just couldn’t take it. Maybe I’m losing my sense of humor.
There’s a lot more to say on this topic and hard questions to ask, but are we really better off as a nation because we only take two weeks vacation a year? Is the “stuff” worth the cost?