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.


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.”