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[dc]“T[/dc]he Cadillac Summer Collection is here." A sophisticate’s voice announces over ersatz music playing for several million dollars’ worth of dancing clean-room robots. Choreographed or not, the electronica pulsations sound like the robots have short-circuiting indigestion. But that’s not why the ad is so obnoxious. Did the disembodied voice announce a Collection? Luxury cars intended to be bought with complementary accessories in sets? In bulk?

advertising cadillacs

Expensive industrial robots with custom, single-purpose software to choreograph them. That comes at a high price. But does Cadillac have any concept how alienating that tv ad is to 99% of us?

A "collection" of expensive luxury cars. Which, by the way, look pretty much like all other biggish cars these days. And luxury car-maker? Isn’t Cadillac some kind of a carryall SUV maker?

Is this tv on the Justin Bieber Monkey Channel?

No. It’s CNN.

You’ve already muted that crappy electronica robot dance music. So now it’s easier to fill-in the dialog for the ad – using what belongs there after that opening “Collection” proclamation.

Well you shouldn't just buy a CAHH. It needs cahmpahnie. At the very least a matched set, don't you know.

Oh, let’s just install a second level under the gaah-rahge so we can bring home the whole collection. Expecting just one to fit-in there would make it such a lonely outcast.

This collection should fit between my everyday limos and the row of Beamers we bought for Muffy. You remember those? The ones in matching color motifs, one for each weekday – Mauve for Monday, Taupe for Tuesday. What was Wednesday? Watermelon or something. I think Muffy might remember. Five of them, wasn’t it? Poor thing has had to recycle on weekends. I’d forgotten I was going to address that. Anyway she'll be pleased with a new collection of something else when she pops in from Monaco. Or is it Rio this time of year?

Won’t she be pleased, darling? I know she’ll be pleased. We need more space in there anyway, where those dreadful birds can’t soil things. And we might trade-in the Cadillac Collection next near for the spring Ferrari Collection. That might be fun. Wouldn’t that be fun? Why should they have all the fun in Europe? Italy, isn’t it? Yes, Italy for cars, France for food.

Even if I’m writing the dialog for what I’m seeing, my tv is not safe from flying shoes. Every time I see that ad for The Cadillac Collection, I turn into Lewis Black.

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It’s just – wrong. Let me count the ways. It feeds everything we hate about the rich, the first-impulse sense of entitlement, the flippant detachment, the acquisitive casual whims of conspicuous consumption by elitists who wouldn't dream of having to associate with the rest of us beyond hiring us from a distance for things that facilitate their convenience. And don’t forget the W-9 form. They don’t pay benefits or Social Security taxes on what they hire you to do.

I hate it that my own tv is suddenly their shill. Right there, images from their separate world, a place isolated and insulated from everyone else’s, where climate change isn’t their problem, where poverty seems to still be in some remote peripheral place where the people who need to bathe and just don’t want to work.

The commercial’s sterile robots protect the Collection’s target clientele from the sense that unclean hands may have touched what they might buy. Robots? Certainly, because do as they’re told.

I hate it that my own tv is suddenly the marketing shill of the rich. Right there, images from their separate world, a place isolated and insulated from everyone else’s, where climate change isn’t their problem, where poverty seems to still be in some remote peripheral place where the locals need to bathe and just don’t want to work. The separate world of the rich, where no one has ever waited and sacrificed and saved to have anything, like decent clothes for work, a long-delayed trip to the doctor, a tune-up, so the car can pass smog, and if we skip lunch for a month we can pay the registration. The rich man’s world, where there is no concept that the education required for a chance to advance requires expensive student loans. The very different world of the rich, where not buying coffee at work this week allows taking home the surprise treat of a carton of ice cream. And my tv is insulting me with their world, with its advertising of, by, and for the decadent rich.

You may have noted, just now, the rather singular characterization of educational aspirations, and the sacrifices most of us make for them, cited as something undertaken solely for a better job. That was especially painful to write. But let’s face it: education pursued for self-fulfillment, for the altruistic aims of learning for its own sake, for knowing or acquiring a better understanding of how things work, and for the cultural and artistic literacy that makes life so much more fulfilling and ennobling? Those things are routinely ridiculed by the rich as “underwater basket weaving,” as time and money wasted in foolish pursuits instead of expended in the private, for-profit trade schools and for-profit, as-seen-on-tv, diploma mills. Education as a rite of passage for young adults to a fulfilled, culturally literate life? That’s no longer the province of the average American.

After all, why should their rich, dumb kid work for your poor, smart kid?

Wealth is not the reward for hard work and achievement. The Horatio Alger ethic – “Work hard and get ahead” – is dead in today’s America. It was murdered by Wall Street pirates, by tech gurus who patent silly applications that exploit the innovators who did the real work, and by mortgage bankers, hedge fund managers, stock brokers who ripped-off pension funds, a society of rich landlords who make the rest of us struggling tenants – and not just by those intent on making us serfs.

It is also a function of our own gullibility in making dimwit celebrities into members of the arrogant rich class. That includes all the obvious examples that populate the “entertainment news” shows – an oxymoronic tv genre as crazy as “reality tv.” And dimwit celebrities likewise include most of those with specific athletic skills who attended college without graduating, then signed $35 million contracts to throw or catch a ball because we are stupid enough to make that economically viable.

There aren’t many who kept the common touch. Warren Buffets are incredibly scarce out there.


There aren’t many 1%ers who have kept the common touch. Warren Buffets are incredibly scarce out there.

empty. THE Yacht? Just one? Why, you need one on each coast, darling. Oh yes, we’d forgotten. Of course you do. At the Cape and the Keys. But you only have ONE in California? Ha! It's too far from La Jolla to Sausalito, and there are all those unpleasant – waves – in between. No, call the hangar. Just decided we’re flying this time. And call the cellar. I hate to fly without the sous chef and my private reserve label.

So this obnoxious Cadillac ad is but a stray tidbit. It hopes to capture a few morsels from the rich who can buy half a dozen new cars with a two-minute phone call between capital-gains-tax-free-stock orders while the table scraps are cleared.

The TV sound is still muted. Hmmm. Wonder if the same advertising firm is available for a commercial to get rich people to approve of Border Children? As in, "Buy the Collection, because they look so cute together in those bullfighter suits when they play that provincial music. And you should own more than just one."


Larry Wines