GM: About That Controversial Cadillac ELR “Poolside” Ad…

MAR 2 2014 BY JAY COLE 78

Unless you have been ‘on the lam’ from anything to do with plug-in vehicles lately, you have seen Cadillac’s “Poolside” video.

The ELR - Why We Do It?

The ELR – Why We Do It?

You know, the one where actor Neal McDonough unabashedly tells Americans why they work hard.  Nutshell?  They work hard to own a Cadillac ELR of course.

Other countries, they work, they stroll home.  They stop by the café.  They take August off. (Pause to look at camera and break fourth wall) OFF!  

Why aren’t you like that?  Why aren’t we like that?  Because we are crazy driven, hard working believers – that’s why.  Those other countries think we are nuts. 

As one can imagine, there has been some fairly strong reactions to the spot; especially as it has been aired fairly prominently at event like the opening of 2014 Olympic games.  Now GM has finally surfaced in an interview with Ad Age to tell the story of “Poolside” and how it has been “misconstrued” by some viewers.

According to Craig Bierly, the Poolside spot was put out as a “brand provocation” placement; which to use infers that it was designed for some people to really love it, while others will despise it.  End result?  They are going to talk about it.

If that was indeed the intended endgame, then mission accomplished.


“It’s Pretty Simple; You Work Hard, You Create Your Own Luck – And You Got To Believe Anything Is Possible” … and you buy a Cadillac ELR too of course

As for the ad being “misconstrued,” Mr. Bierly explains that it’s not aimed at millionaires or 1 percentersbut rather those customers that make around $200,000 a year; the consumers with “a little bit of grit under their fingernails” but sometimes “pop in and out of luxury.”

“These are people who haven’t been given anything. Every part of success they’ve achieved has been earned through hard work and hustle. One of the ways they reward themselves for their hard work is through the purchase of a luxury car,” Bierley said to Ad age.

On the criticism the ad is about materialism:

“It’s basically saying hard work creates its own luck. In order to achieve it, you just have to believe anything’s possible. You have to believe in yourself, you have to believe in possibilities. It’s really about optimism. It’s really a fundamental human truth: optimism about creating your own future. It’s not about materialism.”

This Wink Drives 1 In 4 Insane.    N'est-ce pas?

This Wink Drives 1 In 4 Insane. N’est-ce pas?

Overall, the Caddy rep says that the response has been favorable to the ELR ad, and that positive feedback out numbers the bad by 3 to 1.

But what is the real meaning of the ad?

“We’re not making a statement saying, ‘We want people to work hard.’ What we’re saying is that hard work has its payoffs. Find something you love to do, do it incredibly well and there’s a reward for that. Whether its personal satisfaction, whether its fulfillment, whether that’s money.”

Ad Age via Automotive News

Categories: Cadillac

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78 Comments on "GM: About That Controversial Cadillac ELR “Poolside” Ad…"

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Ah, the good ‘ol Amercan “Rags to Riches” mythos… Too bad the data does not support it happening in the US anymore.


Another amazing product from the genius brain-trust that is GM’s EV ad creators:

Pitch your luxury EV to right-wing plutocrats and their silly admirers who have stopped following reality sometime around 2004.

Because yeah, that’s the ELR’s natural target market and you can afford to alienate pretty much everyone else in the process.

And yeah, we can continue in our one overarching tradition: make EV ads that treat the car’s electrified nature as a liability that needs to be apologized for, alluded to, apologized for – or altogether evaded.

Here’s a small tip: just put those Spark BEVs out there in all states with the same lease terms offered in California, and do a simple ad presenting the deal. The car will sell itself at volumes >10x that of your ELR, without need for silly expensive uber-sophisticated TV spots.

..but did you like it?

haha, good one 🙂

Any ad where one-third of the viewers dislike it, it a BAD ad. If Caddy thinks that’s a great response, they need to fire their ad agency.

Of course upward mobility has slowed in the USA.

The social democratic statist have taken control of the courts and government to punish success and reward laziness.

When you subsidize something you get more of it.

When you tax something you get less of it.

I think it’s caused by apologists for the unsustainable gap between the .1% and everyone else.

If we’re lucky the social democratic statists will be able to get us of this road to nowhere.

But that’s just my opinion, I may be wrong. 🙂

Oh, most definitely “the social democratic statists have taken control of the courts.”

Just see those pinko-commies in the US Supreme Court!

Roberts, Thomas, Alito, and the worst stato-socio-democrato-commie-jihadist of them all:

Justice Antonin Scalia !!!

Thanks for making my Monday smile.

You’re describing a USA that doesn’t exist.

Perfectly said Rob.

Mr. Rob Stark, you are absolutely wrong. Any number of reports discuss the changes in income in the past 10-20 years and they directly contradict your statement. Our taxes are at historic low levels. Our ability to move up and enter the top 5% of wage earners is still very strong, as what it takes to be in the top 5% or the top 1% of U.S. wage earners has increased dramatically. However, we have left people behind and the wages of the bottom 50% have either stagnated or dropped. It has become easier for businesses to shift labor and production overseas which hurts the U.S. overall. How to fix that, however, is subject to tremendous debate. However, it certainly isn’t about punishing success or rewarding laziness and your lack of history and perspective is quite telling.

Maybe the disparity is growing because each year the demographic of “the poor” contains more and more people like this guy:

The democrat party is deliberately motivating this behavior as a strategy to harvest voters. And it’s working … they’ve managed to increase SNAP payouts by 70% in just five years. Historically, class warfare has always been an excellent strategy to acquire power. It especially thrives when it has dedicated supporters who like to preach statistics about wage disparity.

Ah right… great going with logic there. You pick one instance? Maybe SNAP payouts increased in the past 5 years because of, oh, one of the biggest financial disasters in the past 100 years? Oh, no, it must be pandering for votes. But of course, only one party panders for votes, right?

No logic at all.

BTW, SNAP is created as part of a two part deal… I’m all for getting rid of SNAP if all farm subsidies are also removed which artificially props up food prices. I’m not for removing one part and not the other.

Biggest financial disaster in 100 years? Seriously? Don’t you remember the POTUS fixed the economy with his TRILLION dollar stimulus package in 2009. And that was quickly followed by “Recovery Summer”:

Don’t you remember how great he said everything was during the 2012 election? GM saved, unemployment dropping, etc. Yet federal handouts (and national debt) continue to skyrocket. Why …. because it’s a goal:

As for farm subsidies … we agree … phase them out.

Mythos? At 10 I was making 50 cents an hour. At 16 it was $1.10 an hour. I spent the next 28 years serving my country in every nasty place you can think of. Last year I cleared six digits plus. College….No. How did I do this, by working 12 to 14 hours a day when I was getting paid for eight. By giving back to the company that was giving me a job and taking a chance on my performance. By working my @$$ off and I am still doing that and this year from a foreign country. You are simply a wimp, who doesn’t believe in the “myth” because you are too lazy to create achievements in your life. Now, can we get back to EV information because I want to buy one this year, and I won’t be asking you to give up 35% of your “myth” money to subsidize my purchase like you or those of your ilk would.

Bravo Paul,

America was once populated by a majority of go-getters such as yourself. Nowadays, pop culture tells us metro man-children are supposed to be the norm… but then, the powers that be want a world of compliant sheeple.

Anyway, reading your post was a breath of fresh air. I wish you all the success you can earn.

article quote:
“Overall, the Caddy rep says that the response has been favorable to the ELR ad, and that positive feedback out numbers the bad by 3 to 1.”

Well and that seemed to be the opinion over at GM-Volt on the blog after the article. So I guess we can say that GM has finally made an add that could be called successful.

most of the volt fanboys are against tesla so no surprise their praising this lame ass cadillac

Actually I find that the majority over at GM-Volt are PRO Tesla.

I find that true as well. After all without Tesla pushing the envelope there would be no Volt per Bob L

I have been posting on GM-Volt since 2007 and I am all for Tesla. If the Gen II Volt isn’t a marked improvement on my 2013, I will be buying a Tesla E. Volt supporters aren’t just for the Volt, most of us are supporters of electric cars in general.

I suggest you Google “hypocrisy”.

It is actually the other way around.

Most Telsa “fanboys” hate GM.

In fact, most Tesla “fanboys” who doesn’t own any EVs tend to hate the Volt more than anything else….

I suppose even though I’m the 1 in 4 who doesn’t care for the ad, its better than the zero info ads GM had been running for years.. If it helps sell cars than I shouldn’t be too hard on them.

Thx Bill,
I think you own a Roadster. So that’s a good thing.
Hat’s off to all Roadster’s and their owners….I want one.

Where are you George? If you’re near buffalo ny maybe I’d be interested in selling it… I was planning on keeping it a few more years, but who knows? They get excited everytime I drive it to the closest service center to me in Missasauga, Ontario, Canada, since for whatever reason, there have been Zero Evergreen colored roadsters sold in Canada, supposedly.

Commercial is great, but my guess is that that guy would have bought a Model S instead…

Bingo. “Create your own luck” and the idea of working your ass off doing what you know is right made me think of Musk while I was watching it. I totally felt like it was, intentionally or not, evoking the feeling of Tesla, Musk, and the S in order to hock GM’s pathetic answer to the S.

“Answer to”? The Cadillac ELR/Converge was revealed 9 months before the Tesla Model S was.

Thanks for correcting the record. Love how some people love to make stuff up to fit their narrative.

However, the Converj was a concept car and the final production model did not come to market until substantially after the Model S was shown and released into production. Cadillac cancelled the ELR at least once and didn’t give the production version a go-ahead until 2011, well after they knew what Tesla was doing. Even as the ELR was coming out, they should have known how mis-priced the resulting production car ended up being and they moved ahead anyways. So yes, this is their answer to the challenge put forth by the Model S.

The ELR is a small medium-performance 4-passenger 2-door EV/Hybrid.

The Model S is a large high-performance 5/7-pasenger 4-door EV.

So these two cars have almost nothing in common. I can’t explain GM’s ELR rational, but I’m pretty sure that competing with Model S is not part of it.

GM has no product that can directly compete with Model S. Now if GM suddenly announced a high-performance CTS-EV … now that would be competition! 🙂

For every way you want to dice it up, other people dice it differently. It is certainly true that for some, there are reasonable comparisons between the Model S and the Cadillac ELR, including pricing and electric power train.

As for the CTS, we’ll see if GM wants to truly compete by creating a completely new EV oriented platform using somewhat state of the art battery chemistry. Instead, GM elected to have LG Chem supply rather poor performing Lithium Manganese batteries.

An EREV and a BEV are completely different cars to me. Also, the Tesla Model S is no where near as refined as a Cadillac, but they are still learning to build cars, give them time. I won’t care too much when it comes to the Gen 3 anyway, as long as it has the range. LG batteries are performing great, not sure where you come up w/ “poor”. They should last well past 8 years. The Model S concept was revealed 9 months after the Cadillac concept. The ELR/Converj was never “cancelled”. Concepts are just that. No promises about production. It was not mis-priced as very early Lutz said it would cost “about 2 Volts”, which it does.

The problem for Cadillac is the add points out their own contradiction.

Simply because anyone who is able to earn over $200k annually and looking for an EV, will also have the brains not to buy a $75k Volt, and spend their $75k on a 300 EV mile Tesla Model S.

Which means anyone who has ‘worked hard and earned well’ would see anyone driving an ELR as a poser/fool.

They work hard to spend their money idiotically on a “luxury” volt?

lol ok

Unless the Tesla Model S please realize the ELR has “basic luxury features like Adaptive Cruise Control, seats with 20-way adjustments, Blind Spot Alert, and other such things.”

The ELR is a joke. No one can take it seriously. An $80k Cruze. Lots of “luxury” money wasters like motorized cup holder cover. Uuuuu. Thats what I work hard for.

In any important metric, the ELR is hideous. Poor electric range, abysmal performance, little interior room, laughable back seat. Any rich folks who buy it will get noticed as someone who threw their money away when they could have had a Tesla.

The ad’s message about hard work is fine. But why did they have to do it by insulting and stepping over everyone else. Why insult the rest of the world, put down vacations and Europeans. GM makes most of its money over seas. Doesn’t seem like a swift move to alienate your customers to push a car that can’t possibly generate much if any profit (due to poor sales) and certainly doesn’t help the brand image.

Insulting and stepping over everyone else?

If you think there was an insult in that commercial, then you didn’t understand its simple message. It’s the fundamental belief that honest hard work for your own self interest (i.e. greed) is good because the side affect of your success is a product/service that (usually) benefits society. The net sum of all this hard work has allowed the puny little country called “USA” to become the world’s lone superpower in just 200 years.

That message is still valid, even if you (like several others here) hate the ELR and despise those who choose to buy it.

It is only “insulting” to you since you can’t afford it…

Yep. It has been reported that valets in LA are parking that luxury Volt out in front while sending Model S’s on over to the garage. And an unsubstantiated rumor has it that a parking attendant mistook a Chrysler 200 for the Model S parked alongside it as he approached the cars from the rear….

Reported by whom?

Unsubstantiated, indeed.

Oooo yeah. Whopping 58 ELRs sold in February. Looks like a smashing success of an ad campaign and apparently all of the 13 million people in LA are buying it….. or maybe not.

That would be 0.00045% of the LA population buying ELRs if you count nationwide sales of the ELR.

Hopefully no one ever said the American commercials, or commercials in general, where high on the list of social consciousness. You are trying to sell a product, and in this case you differentiate that product by using well known caricatures. Europeans are lazy, and Americans work hard. Yes, you hard working Americans can really identify with a product that elevates you, the elite and denigrates those that are not you, the lazy Europeans. Guess they were not expecting to sell many Elr’s in Europe, anyway. This commercial also represents the foibles of group thinking. I wonder when they ran this by some staffers did not one of them question this approach, or find it offensive? Of course we don’t know that, but corporate boardrooms are notorious, as demonstrated in many commercials, for being full of ‘Yes Men’. Maybe there were some thoughtful objections, but when they ran it past a few audiences they found little offense was taken, as so many Americans prefer to believe in their own superiority. And since we are mostly tactless bores,(a common American caricature) we do not find this commercial offensive. I do find it so. With a rah! rah! Rah! And a sis! boom!… Read more »

I guess I have thicker skin because comedy does not offend me.

Maybe only 1% or 2% of these highly critical idiots gnashing their teeth in dismay at the ad’s brashness would ever have considered an ELR, much less a Volt. Screw ’em – let their minds wallow in turmoil over the thought of the ELR finding any buyers.

And it’s spelled AD, not ADD which is the acronym for Attention Deficit Disorder.

Especially since the joke wasn’t on you. If you were the object of the joke, maybe you wouldn’t find it quite so humorous.

I find jokes about Americans/Engineers/White people/Men very funny, even though I’m all 4 of those.

I guess I have a sense of humor.

Americans prefer to believe in their own superiority?

Your are repeating a common misunderstanding.

It’s not about superior people. It is about a superior system of government that harnesses the power of each individual through personal freedom, capitalism, and free markets. It’s the fundamental belief that honest hard work for your own self interest (i.e. greed) is good because the side affect of your success is a product/service that (usually) benefits society. The net sum of all this hard work has allowed the puny little country called “USA” to become the world’s lone superpower in just 200 years. And that reality is the message of this commercial.

Of course, this message is generally despised by the extreme left, and so those people will also tend to hate this commercial.

You are accurate. I think this is the best ad I have seen GM make — ever. Possibly any car ad from ANY company, ever.

Actually we stole a mostly empty continent from a stone age people through genocide, grew wealthy by exploiting slave labor, then cheap immigrant labor, and even child labor, then watched in amusement as the only competition destroyed each other in 2 world wars, which we jumped into at the last second to claim the spoils.

Or you righties call it, hard work.

I’m still not sure what makes this car worth more than 50K tops…???!!! I guess they gotta pay all these actors for promoting them??

Top Gear put it best in their latest, a video to advise on how to improve bicycling safety.
They came up with the line:
‘Work harder, buy a car’.

The difference is that their video is a spoof.


What the heck else is GM going to do, but try to be an attention wh***? They have a grossly overpriced car, and they’re struggling to make themselves look more enticing to the wealthy car buyer than Tesla does. Good luck with that.

And saying the approval/disapproval ratio is 3:1 is a joke, even if true. If your expensive ad for an expensive product turns off 25% of the audience, you dropped the ball.

In this ad, GM comes across looking like the 50-something guy at a wedding reception who has one too many mixed drinks and decides he’s going to show the high school and college kids how to dance. The result is memorable, but not pretty.

“it’s not aimed at millionaires or 1 percenters, but rather those customers that make around $200,000 a year” That had me laughing. While technically correct, $200k is still the top 4-5%, and are possible millionaires to-be if they aren’t already.

Regarding the car itself and its pice: while not for me, I’m fine with seeing wealthy people put money into the EV market. That will only help it grow.

The 25% was NEVER going to buy the car anyway….

That 25% was mostly GM hater anyway…

Majority of that 25% would never even bought a Volt anyway….

So, at least that whining 25% is putting the name of ELR on the web….

Posers who take themselves so seriously that they risk disappearing up their own A-holes will never get this ad because they couldn’t stand to poke a little fun at themselves using irony, which is exactly what this ad does. (Think Tesla “mine is bigger than yours” fanboys or deadly serious “only BEVs are pure” Enviro-terrorists).

This is more a Cadillac ad than an ELR ad. You could put any Cadillac in the last few frames and the ad works the same. A more refined riff along the lines of the Old Spice commercials, for the self aware it’s absolutely hilarious and does a good job of distinguishing the Cadillac brand from a host of foreign ones.

+ 75,000


The only thing “controversial” about this commercial is the left’s predictable and misguided reaction to it that is being amplified by their media. But at least now I know what ELR stands for.

ELR = Extreme Liberal Rancor


I love this add! Makes me want one. Oh and I also like Tesla too but chances are I will be able to afford the Cadillac with their reasonable lease rates before then a Tesla…


I am not Cadillac’s target market. And damn glad of it.

So, you are the 25% that didn’t matter in the target anyway….

But since you are talking about it, it helps to get the ELR name out….

GM is stupid as always. Stupid to make the ELR, more stupid to defend it. but they are stupid committed. Which is stupid.
And I’m guessing a 200k$ annual income places you well into the top 1% of earners. Maybe even top 1/10 of 1%

Although the term one percenter is being abused to actually mean top 0.01%. Because the dumb masses can’t do math.

Hi, Giza. I guess you didn’t read my earlier post before you posted. The 2011 breakdown for U.S. household incomes is available on Wikipedia. At that time, $200k+ was the top 4.1%. I will guess that inflation has probably moved it somewhere around 4.3%.

$200K per household isn’t that much in California, New York, Connecticutt…etc.

Not sure what your point is here. Does the rest of the country not count in the use of the term “one percenters”? Cost-of-living may be higher in those particular areas, but salaries generally scale (with exceptions, of course), while the car’s purchase cost does not change (modulo sales tax).

(I happen to live in one of those expensive areas too. Even electricity here is double the national average.)

ELR sold 58 in February. Big increase over the 41 sold in January (cough).

Can we call the ELR a failure yet?

GM could have (should have) spent the effort to accelerate Volt 2.0, or make a BEV and have the courage to try and sell it nationwide. Instead we have 58 sales of an $80k Volt to stuck up people who think American’s are the only ones to can travel to the moon.

And so called BEVs are only selling b/c heavy discounts… LEAF.

The only other BEVs are selling is Tesla which is even more expensive than a Cadillac. That luxury market is ONLY so big. How much room do you think there is in that luxury BEV market?

Even Tesla’s sales are down qtr to qtr in California in 2013.

Nuff said there….

I have to say that the moon bit was really poorly timed, considering China’s recent activities of sending a rover mission there, combined with launching humans not long ago. Maybe they’ll try the keys 😉

China’s recent rover has technical prolblems. Yes, it will be decades before they get there. Maybe we will drain the battery by the time the Chinese gets up there…

It was the “manned” part it referred to as the only ones to go there and leaving the keys. That was the only humor that I found in the add and it was “we’ll played” IMO. Regardless spending significant money advertising the ELR is throwing good money after bad money with the ELR starting at $75k unless the real point is to sell Cadillac, with little for how many ELR’s sell.

The Exec’s view of who this market targets and that that person (hard working,self made family man) would want an ELR explains a lot. I just don’t see many of those people seeing enough value in the ELR, of I don’t see much of any target market seeing enough value at $75k but are better ones than cocksure, successful male with kids. Maybe if he were an empty nester, but even then I’m thinking the ELR’s performance and size combination don’t work for that caricature.

I definitely felt good about the ad when I first saw it. I’m not in the demographic for this car, would like to be though. But anyway, I get what the ad said. And I believe in it, and I believe in the USA. If the feedback was a strong 3 good to 1 bad, I’d say 25% of the USA has issues that need attention!

The ELR ad is AWESOME! I show it to everyone I can and posted it on my FB page. It is an “in your face” American pride ad. Yes, the car in it is expensive and out of reach of most. However, the car is beautiful (saw it at the Detroit Auto Show) and those that are “offended” by it may need to get a life. Perhaps education and a job should be in order. No, you will not get an ELR while making a career out of living off of food stamps or minimum wage. I am far from the bracket to afford an ELR but, that doesn’t stop me from constantly pushing forward to better myself so, someday, I can get “nice things” by earning it more than expecting it to be given to me.

As a full blood liberal, I find this ad disgusting. The thought of working hard to get what you want is soooooo 1970s. Wake up America, this is not how it is now. We are undergoing a fundamental transformation in this country and the days of working hard are over. I signed up for Obamacare and quit my job because I am now get subsidies. I want to become an artist, like my hero Nancy Pelosi recommended, so why would I get up at 7am to goto work? I will let my neighbor get up and do that while I paint. He might drive that Cadillac, but he is paying for my healthcare with his taxes. The pay he gets in his first 3 hours that he works goes to people like me. By the way, Nancy Pelosi is the most intelligent person that I have ever heard speak. If people from the Tea Party want to get up and work hard everyday then that is their choice. I see how they protest and it seems so violent. I agree with the liberal feeling that they are terrorists. I was discussing this with my liberal friend while I was urinating… Read more »
School of hard knocks

Bravo Cadillac, as someone who has had to work hard their entire life I applaude this ad. It simply says that you be rewarded for hard work. Waiting at home for your welfare check and your EBT (food stamps) card is NOT hard work. I have achieved some measure of success and it is not due to anything but a willingness on my part to do better than my parents. I am not surprised by the backlash you are receiving from those who believe that government is the answer to all of their problems. There is little doubt in my mind that the critics of this ad define success as that which they can take from others rather than that which they earn for themselves.
Yes, Cadillac you made a beautiful car but more importantly you made a beautiful point. Hard work is rewarded.