Fast Company

Blowing Up Cadillacs to Sell Cars

This fall, Cadillac will be running a new TV spot entitled "Re-ignition." The commercial is meant to show consumers that Cadillac and its woebegone parent are ready to come back into the luxury fray. Instead, it does something entirely different: it frightens us.

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The ad, backed by an audio track that sounds like a NASA launch sequence, smacks more of an Iraq war newsreel on CNN than it does a "top-secret" automotive testing scene.

Watching the Cadillac ad evokes videos like the one below, of a Humvee being hit by a remote IED. Is this what sells cars? The ad ends with the phrase, "America: we have re-ignition."

For anyone still paying attention to the Iraq war, even with health-care and Kayne West interrupting the coverage, the abrupt explosions feel uniquely American, yes, but in a very perverse way. Cadillac shouldn't censor its creative impulses just because there are wars dragging on. It just appears they've confused "edge" with real discomfort; impressiveness with "shock and awe."

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3 Comments

  • Marc Tower

    Chris, you missed the marketing. I'm in the middle of the target, 49 yo male, and I remember clearly watching the big Saturn 5 rockets launch and ignite each stage through the climb into space. I liked the commercial and thought it was spot on - and I was a soldier. I'm a little disturbed that you found it discomforting.

  • Barbara Holtzman

    I agree with Derek - looked more like a salt flats speed test than any war to me. Everyone has issues, Chris - what are yours?

  • Derek Silva

    What part of that ad involved anything blowing up?

    The flashes reminded me much of a shuttle launch - the various rockets igniting and then being detached from the shuttle - not of anything blowing up at all.

    Maybe it's because I'm not American, or because I choose not to watch the hundreds (thousands?) of Iraq videos on the web, but I saw nothing that reminded me of anything to do with war - not even the dozens of war movies I've seen.