To The Wolves: Cadillac ELR Not Intended For “Poolside” Ad

MAR 7 2014 BY JAY COLE 45

We have seen the ad.

Cadillac ELR Makes An Appearance At The Geneva Motor Show This Week

Cadillac ELR Makes An Appearance At The Geneva Motor Show This Week

We have heard the reasoning behind it.

We have seen the response of GM to the public’s reaction – “I (Mark Ruess – GM VP) don’t really care.”

Now it turns out that GM was more than a little worried about the ad themselves.  And fearing the response, the Cadillac ELR was inserted into the ad as a pinch-hitter for another vehicle to make it more “palatable.

In other words, Cadillac’s extended range car took the fall.  And fresh after the ads had ran, there it was at the Geneva Motor show this week taking the heat in Europe.

Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s global chief marketing explains to Adage just how it went down.   Thanks to early research GM figured that we would break through the clutter and generate a hell of a lot of buzz. Mission accomplished.”  But he had concerns on just why that would be true.

Mr Ellinghaus said that he was concerned it would come off as “snobby, arrogant, a little aloof”

What could the Caddy marketing boss do with the commercial being practically complete?  He inserted the plug-in ELR for the originally intended product.

What was that original vehicle?  The exec declined to say.  The only thing he offered was that offering up the ELR over the other ‘mystery car’ was “a little more socially palatable.”

In other words, the ELR not expected to sell in any volume of significance outside of North America took one for the team.  Although Mr.Ellinghaus says he is still behind it, with the disclaimer “…this is something that I’d never, ever use to build the brand globally.” 

The CMO says to not look for any future ads to build on the “Poolside” theme, but rather to show Cadillac in a more global light.


Categories: Cadillac


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45 Comments on "To The Wolves: Cadillac ELR Not Intended For “Poolside” Ad"

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Sabotage? Where are the conspiracy theorists on this one?

This ad sure got people talking. In fact, I’m amazed that we are still rehashing it…

Actually, I think this latest story is the biggest scoop on this ad so far.

It explains a lot. No copy-editor above zero competence would pair a plug-in vehicle – even a luxury one – with this kind of full-minute, Mitt-Romney-style rant.

It also demonstrates yet again that GM’s marketing team still has no qualms about sabotaging whatever plug-in efforts are being made by the rest of the company.

The older and more established a corporation is, the more likely it is to become schizophrenic.

Yes, with time come maladaptive mutations as well as the more positive ones.

Paranoid much?

Slow news week as far as EV’s go. People don’t talk about the Coup d’etat in the Ukraine on this blog.

Slow news week? If that’s true, we are in big trouble…I know I’m exhausted.

Felt like tons of news this week, especially with the Geneva Motor show happening; we have put out 83 stories in the last week, and we still have 70 stories scheduled to roll out with 17 in the draft and research stage.

But it might have just been the site overhaul making us feel that way, redesign wasn’t the smoothest transition. Lots of very early mornings and very late nights.

Every time I hear a story like this, it pains me. Transitions should not be stressful (so long as reliable timelines are given and a competent company is involved)!

I would guess Brian’s got it exactly right. Although I don’t connect with the protagonist, 3 out of 4 do, and the rest of us comment on it to someone. An ad agency’s dream come true.

And even though I’ve never bought a new Cadillac, I have to say the Car is alluring.

But, for the moment, I have to be pragmatic, and my volt and tesla are doing just fine.

I’m just glad I didnt buy one

Amazing to see how messed up a company like GM can be. No wonder they went bankrupt.
Only the global head of marketing. What could he possibly do about a bad ad…

Yeh, great GM. You need a scape goat so it might as well be the ELR. It won’t matter though since you know you’re just going to cancel it anyway. Kind of a “sacrificial Lamb”

ad was probably intended for CTS-Vsport originally

Bob Lutz said that GM’s communication’s strategy was risk avoidance. Well, I like that GM took a risk with this.

Someone in Europe contemplating on buying an American car does so because they are attracted by the attitude with which this car is made. It means that the car has an identity and it has a message.

“Snobby, arrogant, and a little aloof” is good. It sells a lot of BMWs in the States.

No apologies.

I thought BMWs in the US were accepted because they were the “ultimate driving machines,” and not just gussied up expensive pigs with lipstick?”

Disclaimer: I am on my Second Volt, now driving a 2014 after a 3 year lease on the 2011. I actual like that “gussied up pig,” and cannot imagine paying another $40,000 to get the trimmings the ELR offers. No matter WHAT any commercial or advert says.

vdiv, you are the ignorant an unapologetic american ‘mind’ that also made this ad.
If you weren’t so ignorant you would realize that Europe is repulsed by stupid americana and we don’t buy your stupid vehicles.
there are no Cadillac’s here. No chevy’s either although as a rare exception the Cruze sold a few before GM decided to pack up. And the rebadged Daewoo’s don’t count.
There are many Fords here but that’s because Ford always designed models for Europe that were different from Ford POS and now Ford USA have adopted many european models. We have no moronic Ford pickups here. No Ford SUVs.
We were never going to buy the stupid ELR, heck even moronic USA wont buy it, and this ad will only repulse us further. It’s Bush level stupid. It’s pickup driver level stupid. It’s so stupid even Bot Lutz the Putz is probably embarrassed by it.

Geez, how much do guys like this get paid? They should know when to shut up. He had a great story about wanting to generate buzz. I loved that in-your-face commercial. The CMO should have left it at that and keep the rest to himself, he should be a leader and back up his team’s actions. What a shame.

Almost word for word what I, and others here, predicted as the genesis of the release of this add. Though slotting in a different car at the end was beyond anyone’s expectation.
So the Elr is a scapegoat, and now people will speculate about which car was supposed to be there, maybe the Volt.

It’s still better than “Not your father’s Oldsmobile”. Or the “Communist-Leninist Blues” Geo commercial. So they’re improving a little at a time.

Europe makes no apologies for its oil sucking vibrators. Why should GM feel it has to apologize for putting them in their place?

I think the ELR was a better fit for the ad, for this reason. It breaks through not only the anxiety, but assigns a measure of independence to pluggin-in.

*** **** who cares. tired of hearing about this crap LOL

same sh*t every time, video is lame, cadillac is a failure

see below

how many times am i going to see this stupid video

*** MOD NOTICE ***

Commenting on the same thread under different names in order strengthen a point and deceive others IS NOT permitted. Using multiple IDs overall is also NOT tolerated.

You have been warned previously.

So, “Model S”, “EV”, “AudiRS5”, “Tesla Motors”, “smart/volt”, “smart ed”, “Brandon” etc. etc.- your acceptable ID now is “EV” since you use it the most.

If you use any other ID, or use profanities again. Even once, you will be banned.


And I just thought it was a Sybil/multiple personality type issue.

Just so wrong on so many levels…

GM gave up on it’s old ad agency a couple of
years back, after 35 years! The new ad agency comes up with gems like this!

GM spends millions to shoot itself in the foot – right when they’re announcing a new
thrust in Europe. Oh man —-

Meanwhile – Tesla moves on up past 250 per share and was last seen in D.C. before Congress pushing for Space-X to be able to bid for military satellite duties….

I think perhaps this ad was “manifest destiny” – to just shoot EREV/Voltec once and for all and put it out of it’s misery. GM will soon have to focus on a 200-300 mile BEV and trucks that get 70mpg. Now THAT is where EREV/Voltec is most needed! Just listen to Maximum Bob Lutz – he’s very spot-on on that assertion.

I just can’t stop discussing GM enough. I know – the GM-Volters and GM fansite boys just think I’m a naysayer…But look at the new Tahoes, Suburbans, Denalis and Escalades.
This just proves where GM is at, folks.$55,000-$79,000 for THOSE PIECES OF TRUCK MESS?!!!

Next time somebody wonders out loud where GM’s head is at – just point them towards those gargantuan gas beasts.

Bingo! And I would bet that the socially less palatable vehicle was a Cadillac SUV. If your goal is to sell as many of those as possible, with their high markups, and many people already attach a stigma to them, then what better approach than to do an in-your-face ad?

I think this whole mess and GM’s addiction to SUV profits is quite sad, simply because of our situation regarding energy, climate, pollution, etc. We need forward-looking car companies that will compete to push the envelope in bringing out cleaner, more efficient transportation options. But even this soon after their near-death experience GM is resorting to the old standbys of greed and myopia. If they stay on this road, they will be in trouble again. It might take 5, 10, or 15 years, but they’re headed in the wrong direction. Again.


You are a naysayer. 😉

Also your voice of reason is badly needed, especially on the GM fanboi sites. GM needs to take the right kind of risks and lead the industry.

I do think however that you are wrong on the ad. If GM had shown this kind of balls marketing the Volt it may be in a very different state now.

No more apologies or excuses. “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Cmon…their efficiency went up. LOL. And so did the price.

As a truck guy and a hybrid and volt owner…I think the new GM trucks are beautiful.

GM still has poor marketing on their EREVs…I agree.

Are GM using the same ad agency as VW?
They appear about as competent as each other.

I’m so confused. Ellinghaus had concerns, and using the ELR made it “a little” better. If I was a global marketing chief, I’d shoot down any ads for which I had concerns that were only “a little” addressed.

The story is a bit like saying, “We don’t actually like our ad either, but this is better than it was going to be.”


This got to be the BEST AD for a plugin car at all time…

How many other plugin car ad cause this much controversy since 2010?

This will go down as one of the memorable ad ever for a plugin car whether you like it or NOT…..

It appears the GM party line for this product is “I Don’t Care”.

There go I.

Sure hope there’s something to be learned by this – and it’s on the drawing board.

THAT AD WAS AWESOME! If you hated it you are UNAMERICAN!

I loved the ad. Its under my favorites on YT, and when it comes on TV my son and I both stop and pause to watch it. All American here!!


GM– frenemy to its own products and survival.

Actually, I love this ad, and the more I see it, the more I become obsessed with it. Yes, it’s a little obnoxious. On the other hand, it makes a positive out of our ridiculous work ethic, and holds up the Caddy as a reward. It’s made me loo at the ELR in a new light.

I love the “Poolside” ad! It has been too long since an American company started shouting out about American Exceptionalism. So what if some folks in Europe get “bent” over by the ad poking fun at them. You think they do not do the same thing back? Watch BBC’s Top Gear and see how much they care about American made products. It is not xenophobic, its ingenious! We are still talking about Cadillac. The ELR is priced to challenge the Tesla. Like the Volt, future Caddys will come down in price if they actually expect to sell a lot of them. Right now, they have effectively created a “collector’s car” because of its price, its exclusivity, and its “controversy.” The Tesla is a nice car, however, I can drive from Detroit to Chicago in a Volt without stopping for a charge or fuel. Do that with a Tesla!

I for one loved it. Absolutely awesome…

Cadillac insults the French, not a bad strategy just a little ironic.

One of the complaints I’ve heard over and over is that conservatives have an aversion to plugin cars. This ad targets conservatives. And not every conservative is Rush Limbaugh ditto head or a Ted Nugent type. The genius of this ad is that we’re talking about it. Many Volt fans criticized GM for ineffective advertising and now GM knocks one right out of the park and people are still complaining. They even showed this ad on Fox News. Of course, Neil Cavuto delivered his usual clap trap about GM being un- American but he played the entire ad for free. In a roundabout way Fox News was tricked into airing a GM ad that appeals to moderate conservatives on a show with a conservative audience. Nice!

Great ADD …need more like them!
The EC,Japan,UK,Korea etc put huge VAT taxes on our products…essentially keeping them out. We should do the same .. then see how well their products “sell”.

My Chevy Volt has performed better than any “professional” review. The performance is unbelievable… better than any V8 I’ve ever owned… it’s not a super sports car but performs better than a sports car. The 273lb torque is always instantly available making it the best drive for the city. At 90mph it is extremely stable and quiet.

The Caddy ELR is a total upgrade to the Volt.

Fantastic spot. As a conservative that drives a Volt, I think we should stop apologizing for a lifestyle that rewards hard work and self sufficiency. GM would be wise to build on this advertisement theme and the buzz it creates.