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“Cadillac tells lazy French leftists to get stuffed! Love it!” Like Andrew Klavan, I also got a capitalist kick out of message of this Cadillac commercial — if you’re going to sell a hybrid that isn’t a Prius, make its commercial the most pro-American ad you can write. I’m only half surprised that GM didn’t cast Michael Douglas dressed up in one of his Gordon Gekko suits, a power tie, and trademark horizontal-striped shirt. But no need — as left-leaning Jalopnik quips, “This Cadillac ELR Ad Will Make You Hate Electric Car Buyers.”
I only wish General Motors walked the walk as well as their pitchmen talk it. As Jonah Goldberg said in 2009, the period in which General Motors transformed itself — at least for a time — into Government Motors, “the old adage ‘Everyone’s a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down’ is kicking in. The thing is, if you’re a socialist on the way down, you were never really a capitalist on the way up. Capitalism requires putting your own capital at risk.”
But then, this isn’t the first time the message from General Motors diverged from the corporation’s actual practices. Shortly after World War II, GM was at least enough of a capitalist on the way up that it distributed copies of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. Only to eventually gun the motor so hard down that very same road to serfdom that by the start of the 21st century, as Jonah wrote in 2008′s Liberal Fascism, “There’s a reason liberal economists joke that General Motors is a health-care provider that makes cars as an industrial by-product,” foreshadowing GM’s bailout by the Obama administration the following year.
On the other hand, this new ad could foreshadow events this fall, as we’ll explore right after the page break.
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And note GM isn’t the only former division of Government Motors to promote freedom and capitalism after siphoning gallons from the taxpayer trough. In 2010, Chrysler ran the above ad, which I’m embedding because the version that Ed Morrissey linked to at Hot Air was eventually pulled.
As Ed wrote in July of that year, only a few months before the midterm elections that swept the left out of one half of Congress, “Advertisers going after Tea Party supporters: When Madison Avenue targets a demographic, we know that a certain population has become a force in American culture.” To the point where at least one ad agency all but begged consumers not to look at the ideology of a product’s manufacturer:
George Washington’s driving a Dodge Challenger — made by the very same Chrysler that got a huge government bailout, followed by a political bankruptcy that broke the law by screwed the senior creditors in favor of the unions. Under the terms of the deal, Fiat bought 20% of what was left, with options to own as much as 51% if the US government sells it off.
Considering that the Tea Party hates the bailouts and everything for which they stand, how smart is it to target Tea Party supporters — who certainly have a sense of Revolutionary War history — by putting Washington behind the wheel? Did Chrysler think that Tea Party supporters are too stupid to realize that Chrysler got a bailout and a strongarmed bankruptcy, courtesy of Barack Obama, hardly a darling of the Tea Party crowd? This commercial seems to go out of its way to insult the intelligence of what is apparently their target market for muscle cars.
Both of the above ads represent pandering on an appropriately massive scale befitting these corporatist conglomerates deeply in bed with the Obama administration. However, as Jeffrey Earl Warren wrote at the start of the month at Riochet regarding the similar themes of many of the recent Super Bowl ads, we can at least read the tea leaves they imply:
A lot can happen between now and November, but what is important to remember is that these spots are no accident. As the former vice president and creative director of a couple of ad agencies, I can tell you that they focus group all these concepts (and often the finished ads) before they put them on the air. They test them assiduously and go with the concepts that play the best with would-be consumers.
That means they tested lots of various competing thematic ideas. You can be assured there were edgy commercials, even “Occupy America” themes or income redistribution type spots, that didn’t score well.
Though commercials (unless they are about world hunger or orphans) tend to be upbeat in nature, you can bet that if advertisers thought single mothers on welfare sitting on stoops in inner cities would sell more Coca-Cola, they would run the spots.
What did the people tell them that they wanted? A clean, simple, pure America where people are kind to one another, work hard, raise animals, and honor their troops. In short, most of these spots could be labeled “Patriotic” — not saber-rattling, jingoistic, war-mongering patriotic, but pride-in-self, pride-in-country patriotic.
If the mood of the country continues along these lines between now and election day, it could blow an ill wind for Democrats in November.
Which may be the real takeaway message from Cadillac’s new ad.