work boots

When working hard gets ridiculous

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

While I was watching the Olympics a few nights ago, I saw a commercial that was so over the top, it hardly seemed believable. In fact, I’m not entirely sure it’s not meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek—I even posted it on the Facebook page yesterday, and readers seem equally vacillated between shocked, saddened, and amused by the ridiculousness of it.

It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, from Will Rogers of all people: “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”

Here’s one of my favorite reader reactions:

FB quote

Amy touches on one of several issues wrong with the message espoused in the commercial—that if you work hard enough and sacrifice your freedom, you will earn things. Pretty things. Enviable things. And they will be worth all the blood, sweat, and tears devoted to the office. With no thought to the millions around the world who TOIL, day after day, with little tangible material to show for it.

Another reader said this:

FB quote 02

…and this was my first reaction, too. In fact, it reminded me of stuff I share in Notes From a Blue Bike; the section on work, specifically. I relay that fable about a Mexican fisherman who’s approached by the businessman who essentially offers him help to work long, grueling hours to eventually retire to the same lifestyle he’s already currently enjoying.

Oh, here’s the commercial, if you’re interested:

Sure, it may be a spoof. I don’t care. It was aired as a real commercial, during prime time viewing hours for a heavily-viewed, family-friendly program. Joke or not, this commercial speaks volumes about our culture, and it matters.

It matters because even if the majority don’t really live this hyperbolic way, we know that some people do, and there’s an assumption that if you really want to be successful in the world’s eyes, there’s a fragment of truth here. The bigwigs, the top of their game, they must live somewhat like this.

The part I found most interesting was his comment about many parts of the world taking off the entire month of August, with a sort-of eye roll at their lack of work ethic. Sure, it might be a joke. But the guy speaks pretty directly at why many cultures don’t think of America too favorably (even if the stereotype is exaggerated).

Families in most cultures worldwide don’t have more than one car (and many of them don’t have one), and they’d never even dream of a backyard pool, nor an electric Cadillac. But as a rule, many cultures suffer from less stress, live a slower-paced lifestyle, and go to bed happier than the stereotypical family represented in that commercial.

Fine, it might have been a joke. But I don’t find it funny. I have a good sense of humor; I love all sorts of SNL sketches and I’m not beyond the Old Spice commercials. But this was too much. It was taking a jab at other cultures, and that ruffles my feathers.

It was on my mind a bit last night, as my family and I mingled with several of yours in Houston—kids running around and playing, the grownups sipping drinks and chatting.

kids table

Notes From a Blue Bike

I met one reader who loves people from the table—she fed over a thousand people at her dining room table last year. She absolutely loves it, sees it as her calling; I could see her heart beat faster in her eyes as she told me.

sarah

I heard stories about a recent move to a cul-de-sac full of families. They all barbecue in their front yards instead of the back so that they can hang out easier; the kids run freely in and out of each others’ houses. They never want to move. (I wouldn’t either.)

rachel

A nurse came in near the end of our time, clad in turquoise scrubs, tired but happy. She told us, smiling the whole time, of her crazy day full of hospital management and patients. She loves her job, and she loved that she was about to head home to her three kids.

lovely

As a family, we were there because we could be. Yes, we could make more money writing and blogging, and Kyle could probably step down from his work at a non-profit and in helping run AoS—but then we couldn’t take these few weeks as a family and travel to see you guys.

from above

Part of living simply involves deciding your priorities. I don’t have issues with anyone owning a Cadillac or of working hard—but know certain choices come with a cost. Me? I’d rather work hard, but also close the laptop at the end of the day and enjoy a simple drink with readers I can now also call friends.

Next up, we’ll be in Atlanta! Join us at FoxTale Book Shoppe on Thursday, February 13 at 6:30 p.m. Books will be on sale, so bring the whole family and come say hi! We had so much fun in Houston, I can tell you from experience you won’t want to miss it. I’d LOVE to meet you.

Okay, what’s your take on the Cadillac commercial?

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Comments

  1. You are so right! I just had to comment. That commercial is like a slap in the face of every HARDWORKING person past and present who makes just enough money to make ends meet. I wonder if that actor and the car company really feels that way…sad. I’m a German/American living in Europe and I gotta tell you…I’d much rather have ALL of August off and spend it with my family and have time to really sit in a cafe after work with friends. THAT is what makes life worth living. I feel sorry for anyone who takes STUFF so seriously.

    It’s also very sad that this kind of cliche about Americans is being spread via a commercial from an American company nonetheless! But this is sadly how most Europeans probably think Americans are. And I know that they are mostly not…that there are many more Americans that are hardworking, simple living people trying to make ends meet. But do those people in other countries that never get to see the United States think that? If they see a commercial like that, it will just add to the already very much existing hostility towards Americans.

    Hmm, those over-educated marketing experts should think more. I’m sure they didn’t mean for it to come across this way…or did they? Sure gives one something to think about.

    ~Siggie

    Have a great week Tsh!

  2. What about the countries where people DO work their tails off, DO take the whole month of August off and STILL manage to drive the latest Mercedes/BMW and rank as one of the most influential economies and governments in the world (Germany). Just sayin’.

    So many thoughts about this commercial and what it says about advertising and the American society as a whole (spoof or not)… What is valued, attitude, etc.

    And -spoof or not- I now have much less respect for Cadillac. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

    • Those are my sentiments as well Juliette. As a military brat I grew up in both countries. I’ve worked in the US and know what it’s like to work hard, earn little and have only 8 payed days of vacation a year.

      Here in Germany for the past 20 years I’ve worked very hard, earned more and had plenty of time off to enjoy the hard work also. People need to know that there is another way to live.

      I think having a big house, a pool and a Cadillac is great, but not if it means I have to ignore my family in order to pay for it. I’m also beyond being jealous of anyone who has that stuff, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”. Cadillac does realize that there are people in Europe who own villas, big cars and even real castles. It’s not like there isn’t any wealth “in those other countries”. Well, I guess they do realize it, otherwise they wouldn’t have had to use this desperate attempt to fetch customers.

      Ok, finished ranting….I may be taking this too seriously!

      ~Siggie

  3. This commercial literally makes me want to weep. So many thoughts converging… Thank-you for sharing it. And your sweet thoughts at the end about sharing your life with those around you. My husband has worked extremely hard his entire life (spent some time at a non-profit, now running a new start-up business) and we definitely don’t drive a Cadillac (nor do I EVER plan to after this commercial). The saddest part for me is thinking of all the moms and dads in our country and other countries that work so hard and are never recognized for the simple gift of providing food and shelter for their families. I feel as though we have to fight against this cultural mind-set everyday for the sake of our children and generations to come. What you don’t see in the commercial is the pain that comes from having TOO MUCH STUFF. And the relational challenges that are involved in that lifestyle. No one’s life is perfect, that’s for sure. Anyway, I hope that we can live what really matters and pass onto our children the simple life they were made to live.

  4. I’m so glad your book tour is going well. Life is about priorities. Sometimes, too much stuff, commitments, etc., can clutter our perspective on seeing what is really important…

  5. So glad you posted this. My husband and I looked at each other during the commercial and couldn’t believe it was real. Besides coffee in the afternoon and August off with my family sounds pretty great to me.

  6. Wow… just, wow. I’d say my favourite part of the commercial was him walking quickly through his enormous house and ignoring all the people who live there. I mean, yes, he’s talking to a camera, quickly, about american-awesomeness and I think you’re right in that it’s probably a hyperbolic, over-the-top conflation of underlying truths… but still utterly painful to watch. Cadillac may have meant it to be a play on these issues, but it reveals more than it intended, I think. Ugly American, indeed.

  7. Spot on. Further indicating our jacked up view of people vs. things.

  8. Oh how I wish you were coming to Denver!!

  9. It might be my current life situation, but I didn’t find that funny or tongue in cheek at all. It was an insult to the thousands of Americans who work hard, do the best they can, but still live (barely) paycheck to paycheck.

  10. “You work hard, create your own luck & you gotta believe anything is possible.”

    What’s worng with that? Maybe doesn’t apply to many people. Maybe it applies to you. We’re all different.

    Don’t judge.

    • thank you maryann

    • There is absolutely nothing wrong with that statement. You are right. We all have our own beliefs and that’s what makes America great. We believe anything is possible if we work hard.

      You know what makes America not so great? Egotistical attitudes like the one shown in this ad.

      Remember those kids in high school who were so stuck up that they never thought of any other opinions but their own? That’s what America is seen as in the rest of the world because of attitudes like the one portrayed in this failed tongue in cheek advertisement.

      I live in one of those countries he mentioned with shorter work days and long summer holidays. And yes, sometimes it drives me absolutely nuts. I think that they could use a little American work ethic. But I also think America could use a little European work ethic as well.

      And I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to continually have to defend my country and my fellow Americans against what Europeans believe we are. And that is why this ad makes me absolutely furious. We are ONE country in a very big world. Can we really afford to make everyone else think we are completely stuck up, judgemental, materialistic workaholics?

      • If you ever have a chance, read Dinesh D’souza’s “What’s So Great about America”
        http://www.phillytalkradioonline.com/comment/10-great-things.html

        ” We’ve endured lengthy lectures about America’s history of slavery, about
        the defects of American foreign policy, about the materialism of American
        life, and about the excesses of American culture. In the view of many
        critics at home and abroad, America can do no right. This indictment, which undermines the patriotism of Americans, is based on a narrow and distorted understanding of America. It exaggerates America’s faults and ignores what is good and even great about America.”

        1. America provides an amazingly good life for the ordinary guy.
        2. America offers more opportunity and social mobility than any other country, including the countries of Europe.
        3. Work and trade are respectable in America, which is not true elsewhere.
        4. America has achieved greater social equality than any other society.
        5. People live longer, fuller lives in America.
        6. In America, the destiny of the young is not given to them but is
        created by them.
        7. America has gone further than any other society in establishing
        equality of rights.
        8. America has found a solution to the problem of religious and ethnic
        conflict that continues to divide and terrorize much of the world.
        9. America has the kindest, gentlest foreign policy of any great power in
        world history.
        10. America, the freest nation on earth, is also the most virtuous nation
        on earth.

        • Um, you have heard of Australia haven’t you?

          You know, that country in the Southern Hemisphere that is almost as big as the USA (but with a much smaller population).

          We tick most of the boxes on your numbered list, but not this one…
          “10. America, the freest nation on earth, is also the most virtuous nation on earth.”

          because we are not so arrogant as to believe that we are the only ones with a wonderful democracy, equality, multicultural peoples, opportunity, etc.

          and oh, yeah, we have health care and a decent minimum wage. We also have 4 weeks off a year as standard, (and if you think that’s lazy, our economy has in recent years been considered the healthiest in the world).

          That “most virtuous nation on earth” is pretty offensive.

          • I didn’t write that. Dinesh did. He has a unique perspective on our society as an immigrant from one of the poorest countries in the world:

            “Freedom, by definition, includes the freedom to do good or evil, to act nobly or basely. But if freedom brings out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. The millions of Americans who live decent, praiseworthy lives desire our highest admiration because they have opted for the good when the good is not the only available option.”

      • Those are my sentiments as well Claire. As a military brat I grew up in both countries. I’ve worked in the US and know what it’s like to work hard, earn little and have only 8 payed days of vacation a year.

        Here in Germany for the past 20 years I’ve worked very hard, earned more and had plenty of time off to enjoy the hard work also. People need to know that there is another way to live.

        Don’t misunderstand me, I think having a big house, a pool and a Cadillac is great, but not if it means I have to ignore my family in order to pay for it. I’m also beyond being jealous of anyone who has that stuff, “ain’t nobody got time for that!”.

        Cadillac does realize that there are people in Europe who own villas, big cars and even real castles. It’s not like there isn’t any wealth “in those other countries”. Some European nations have the best economies in the world. Well, I guess they do realize it, otherwise they wouldn’t have had to use this desperate attempt to fetch customers. I wonder if they were paid by the US government for that commercial…remember when GM was bailed out by the US government in the financial crisis? Remember when the US government was almost broke? How easy people forget. Until the next time America is broke and has to lay-off people from their jobs. This arrogance would be so funny, if it weren’t so sad.

        Ok, finished ranting, sorry ’bout that…I may be taking this too seriously! ~Siggie

  11. Yes! My jaw dropped when I sat the commercial the other night – my husband’s too! What a slap in the face to family time and relationships.

  12. avatar
    Barb from CNY says:

    I competely agree about this! It also reminds me of the Lexus commercial that airs at Christmas time that also drives me crazy, because after all isn’t it totally cool to give someone you love a Lexus for Christmas?? I wonder how things get so out of whack…do they get out a whack first and then they make the ad for it or do the ads drive the insanity?

  13. Pathetic, arrogant, but also really sad- you know people like that will never experience true Joy because nothing will ever be enough.

  14. I actually thought “this MUST be a joke” because it was so obnoxious. I think it was one of those jabs that are half-true. Like, you say it because you believe that, but try to play it off as humor, so it’s not so offensive.
    Our life couldn’t be further from what that commercial was describing. We don’t value the unused swimming pool, the huge house with 18 foot ceilings, or the fancy, expensive car. I know plenty of people who’d rather have an entire month off, than any of those things. I’m one of them!
    Sarah M

  15. Ask the Europeans if they would rather have month-long vacations and two-hour lunches or a higher standard of living and the opportunity for advancement.
    I know my overseas family would prefer the latter. I also know that most will not admit to that and would prfer to mock our way of life…

  16. I think the ad was meant tongue in cheek and I’ll admit that it did make me laugh, but not for the reason they meant. The actor, Neal McDonough, has been on my screen quite a lot lately. I just rewatched the whole season of Justified in which he appeared as the abusing, murdering, thieving, oxy addicted, Detroit mob guy who was banished to KY (which is where I live). He also played the bad guy trying to kill my beloved Bruce Willis in Red 2 (which I also watched this week). So really, in my head, this commercial is showing me a bit more of those/that guy. That professional bad guy amuses me, but now that I’ve written this paragraph…I can’t for the life of me remember which car company the commercial was for. I guess that means it wasn’t very effective advertising.

  17. That cul-de-sac life sounds like the best thing…as long as you like your neighbors! ;]

  18. I think the advertisement is actually good and pretty brave for the company.
    I would not take it too personally, unless maybe you are that type of person as presented in the advertisement. Someone who feels almighty and is arrogant, making fun of other countries, and yes I have heard statements like these from Americans.
    This add is aimed at this type of person, someone who is driving a Cadillac and has that type of house and that type of attitude and no matter how some people wish these type of people away, they are out there. Therefore for Cadillac, to put this type of advertisement out there, aimed at that high end type of consumer (not all high end consumers are like that – I know!), is pretty brave, as they are kind of undermining their sales with this in my opinion.
    This add is not aimed at the people who are reading this type of blog or even the poorer American. Anyway I have seen this type of attitude displayed in people of average income as well, so I think the add is mostly aimed at people with this attitude, and is trying to ‘reach’ to those type of people, who sometimes need their noses pushed into what is right in front of them.

  19. As a French reader, I’m shocked and offended (I take that the few French words he speaks last is a direct allusion on how we’re supposed to be soooo lazy). Just as our President is visiting yours, I think it’s worrying how some Americans can turn their noses on foreign cultures.
    Yes I take 3 weeks in August off but the rest of the year we all work very hard (for those who are lucky to have a job), thank you very much. And I don’t own a car at all, but if I needed to, I won’t buy a Cadillac.

  20. I think that joke or not it is the epitome of the arrogance of those who value things over people. Not everyone who sees it is able to see the tongue in cheek-ness of it, but only that it is a slap in the face to those who work hard and will never be able to afford the lifestyle portrayed. I also think it is an indication of the attitude of wealth that leads to what is now being noticed as crime committed by spoiled children of affluence.
    I am grateful that I have reached a place of joy in the moment and satisfaction with what I have. Owning a Cadillac, even if I could afford it, is of no interest to me.

  21. I think this would have been funny if it was an snl commercial, or something similar trying to make a point. But the fact that it was from an expensive car company makes it just sad. I think it was intended to spark controversy and they really don’t care if hard working people that can’t afford their product are offended anyway. I could never afford a Cadillac so they don’t care if I didn’t like it!

  22. Tsh,
    Unrelated to the ad, but on the topic of book signings…
    Please be sure to watch the weather in Atlanta. I hope you can make it and the book signing will still be on. The most important thing, though, is to stay safe, so be careful out there in your travels! I wouldn’t plan to be on the roads at all on Wednesday.
    Take care!

    • Yes, do be careful! The roads are actually prepped with salt and sand this time around but it still sounds like it’s going to be a nasty mess.

  23. I live in S. California (Orange County), and this commercial depicts much “status quo” for this area.

    My husband and I definitely live counter-cultural (by intention). Our “new” car is 12 years old & 2nd car is 22 years! We have a small garden and backyard chickens! My husband’s co-workers can’t believe that we shop at Goodwill, etc. and that our “nice” store is JC Penney, lol! I like to buy quality and don’t give in to the latest trends. Heck, even as a high-tech couple we don’t even have smart phones. My husband rarely works overtime (only when needed for a specific short-term project) and is home by 4:30 most nights to spend quality time with the family. He’s worked at his company for 14 years, and has been fortunate enough to earn 4 weeks of vacation a year (and actually takes all his vacation).

    I often joke about wanting a Cadillac for my “retirement car” one day. In reality, I’m probably too frugal to ever buy one though ;-)

  24. I kept waiting for the punchline while watching it. I suppose it’s being played because everyone is inspired by watching the best athletes in the world (who happen to be privileged enough to ski every day of the year from age 4 on). Hard work=reward. Yes, hard work is good. But who wants to become like that guy?? I told my husband I’d never buy a Cadillac now. And he laughed because I’d never want one anyway.

  25. avatar
    Maverickmom4 says:

    All it makes me see is payment, payment, payment. No family time at all to enjoy spending with my kids, I would never see my hubby because he’s working to hard to afford those luxeries, and also about that song I think it is called Cat’s in the cradle. Living simpler is so much better.

  26. Oh wow – can you blame others around the world for thinking Americans are so arrogant? That commercial embarrasses me as an American. Why does it have to have the “we are the only ones who works hard and are smart and do the right thing” attitude? Promote the good qualities of the car without taking a jab at other countries!

  27. I noticed that commercial during the Olympics, too! I felt gross just watching it. I could not figure out exactly what the makers of the commercial wanted me to take from it, but all I felt was embarrassed by the condescension aimed at every other country in the world- like insulting them is supposed to make me feel better about myself? The arrogance was too much for me. If it was supposed to be a joke, and I’m not sure it was, it was very poorly done.

  28. I’m glad this commercial didnt go under the radar. I saw it when it aired and was completely shocked and confused. Like, did he just say that? I haven’t been able to forget it since. My hope is to make sure I’m always the opposite of this commercial!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  29. I hadn’t seen this commercial. It struck me as arrogant hubris, based on male machoism of what they project as being a successful businessman in America.

    I am not impartial. I have a an exceptionally sensitive radar for male macho BS. Can’t stand it. Despise it. So that screamed loud and clear at me in this commercial.

    Because our society is consumerism based, it’s all about marketing in America, and social messages. Social messaging whether right or wrong, true or false, works and influences the society, unfortunately. This is true because we’ve become a post-Christian society, and we’ve become moral and ethical pygmies. Which is an insult to pygmies. But He has still reserved to Himself 10,000 men who have NOT bowed their knee to baal . . . In this social message, it’s clear you’re a successful, corporately powerful male because you are driven, you work hard and drive an electric Cadillac. The arrogant hubris, about the French (n’est ce pas), or about Europe in general (who a majority of DOES take August off for vacation), is tacky and in exquisitely bad taste. Which is totally appropriate for this commercial, i.e. totally in keeping with the rest of the commercial. Too bad he couldn’t interact more with the child he hihg

    Testosterone appeal. No thank you. REAL MEN who are powerful, powerfully stand up for God, Family, and Country. Three concepts notoriously absent in this commercial. It’s too bad they couldn’t show him interacting WITH the child he high-fived on the couch in passing, MORE than his focus on the suit and car.

  30. Oh man. The dude in the commercial says “It’s pretty simple. You work hard…” which is one of my pet peeves, the fool-proof bootstrap idea that you “just work hard and you succeed.”

    What about the millions of people working minimum wage jobs? The mom I knew when I was at Head Start who worked THREE minimum wage jobs and didn’t get home until 2 am and left again at 8 am and hardly saw her kids? The folks picking our vegetables and fruits all day long in hot fields? Are these people not working hard? It’s such an insult to them, honestly.

    Also, this commercial is SO pompous and American-centered, I just can’t handle it. Thanks (or not thanks since it’s clearly ruffled my feathers?? ;)) for bringing this up!

  31. I loved it. There was nothing satirical about it. Just like the Mike Rowe Walmart ad. America was built by hard working people. Some get ric, some don’t. I’m a high school administrator making 50k a year wit a stay at home wife raising 8 kids, five of which are adopted in a three bedroom one bath house. I love my job and knew what it paid when I took it. But I don’t begrudge those who work hard and become materialistic ally successful. I am grateful. Their taxes pay my salary.

  32. I’m going to jump off topic (although I have plenty of thoughts about the commercial) to say I want to know more about the Woman who few 1000 people at her table last year!! Does she have a blog? I’m fascinated by her.

    • Cadillac has done their job…people are talking them.

      Let’s remember that this is just an ad and there has been far more positive REAL stories during the Olympics about working hard, family support,etc… I found this ad to be full of dry humor. I believe people can choose to live their lives as they choose…even if this means living for status and the accumulation of nice and shiny things. If we expect others to understand and not be offended by a simpler way of living, we should aim to accept the way others choose to live. We all make choices and we are free to speak our minds and live the lives we choose…that’s a wonderful thing

  33. You do understand that the new Cadillac commercial with Neal McDonough extolling the virtues of good old-fashioned, America-style hard work is a bit of a parody, right? Granted, there are asshats like this in America who make you want to take a shit on the hood of their brand new Cadillac but consider this, those are the people who can afford to buy a Cadillac.

    Like it or not, asshat or not, this ad perfectly targets the Cadillac buyer. Or, at least, the stereotypical version of the Cadillac buyer. And isn’t that what advertising’s all about? Slicing consumers into categories and then creating caricatures of of those categories to better identify with a particular slice?

    Most people won’t/can’t buy this car. That’s why most people don’t like the ad.

    And, besides, you have to admit, it’s pretty awesome for its non-formulaic approach to car advertising.

  34. I do love satire, but like you said, this was definitely aired in the wrong time slot. Kids don’t get satire and adults usually aren’t looking to commercials for satire. It just seemed really gross to me, particularly the ugly American stereotype in it. It just really didn’t come across well to me at all.

  35. I’m Swiss and legally everyone has the right for four weeks of holidays a year, plus about 10 days public holidays, depending on the area you live in. A few years ago, Swiss citizens were invited to vote (you know, we vote on nearly everything about 3-4 times a year) on whether we wanted a minimum of six weeks of holidays (for everyone at every jobsite). The law didn’t pass! The majority preferred not to spend more time with their family. So much about Americans being arrogant..

  36. I enjoyed your article about the Cadillac commercial almost as much as the comments. Here’s mine:
    When I first saw this commercial, I was mostly interested in it because of the actor, who portrayed a father / coach who learned the hard way that his family came before winning rugby games in the movie “Forever Strong.” The guy went from a tyrannical, win-at-all-costs guy to a guy we sense might have the interests of his wife and son in front of his desire to win games. He plays an intense guy quite well.
    Bear in mind here that I grew up in extremely modest circumstances (my first four years were spent with my mom, dad, and sister in an 8’ by 24’ house trailer) and that I’ve been a teacher for most of my adult life, the only deviation from that path being a short and fulfilling career as a professional triathlete. I make relatively little money from teaching and made none whatsoever as a “pro” athlete. My wife works but didn’t for over ten years until the kids were in first grade. We obviously don’t live for money. We are willing to work reasonably hard for a reasonable amount of money, but we aren’t willing to work ourselves into the ground. We like our free time and look forward to the time when my wife can ‘retire’ and enjoy the same free time I have throughout the school year and in summer.
    With this mindset as background, I thought the Cadillac commercial was one of the best spots I’ve ever seen, and I’m a guy who watches the Super Bowl mainly for the commercials. I liked the whole mood of the spot, and I liked the message. I have no problem at all with people who feel compelled to work extremely long hours, all year-round, and I have no problem with them making vastly greater amounts of money than I make.
    I get a kick out of the people who consider the message a slap in the face of people who work like dogs just to make ends meet, mainly because the people who make a lot of money tend to work much harder and much longer than these mythical ‘working class’ people. This is well-known and easily corroborated. I think it’s interesting that one of the posters actually had the temerity to intimate that the spot made her “literally” want to weep. I imagine that would be “figuratively,” because it would be almost pathological for anyone to literally weep—or want to—over a television commercial for a car. We’re quite precious and delicate humans if a car commercial makes us literally want to weep, because weeping over a commercial message espousing hard work, national pride, honest truth, and wealth accumulation is bizarre. As for the idea that the guy strolled through the house is ignoring his family, I thought it was relatively clear that his family members were enjoying themselves and didn’t feel the need to comment on his monologue and, besides, the whole point of the spot was to…sell cars to a certain demographic of people, of which the people commenting here most definitely are not a part. I’m not a part of it, but I don’t have a problem with people in it. My in-laws are in it, and that’s fine with me. They work harder than I do, don’t take as much time off, and make many times more money than I do, and people in their income bracket tend to employ most of us who don’t want to work as hard as they do. Without the wealthy, most of us wouldn’t have jobs.
    As for the “Ugly American” epithet, that one’s been done to the point of parody, and it’s obvious to anyone who’s travelled internationally that there are plenty of “Ugly Foreigners” from every country on earth. My wife mentioned the snooty French people she met there but also the friendly ones, and there’s the joke about Switzerland being really beautiful, but, of course, there ARE the Swiss…so let’s not get all sanctimonious about who’s “ugly” and who’s not.
    Finally, let’s keep in mind that, like it or not—and I like a whole lot and won’t apologize for that— America is where things get done. Silicon Valley isn’t in China, Wall Street isn’t in New Delhi, Hollywood isn’t in South Africa, and the capital of free speech is, quite clearly, not in Russia. People immigrate here, not ‘there,’ and when they want to get a top quality college education, they come here, not ‘there.’ When they have great ideas that might make them and others a lot of money, they come here. When they want to start businesses that employ lots of people, they do it here. You don’t see too many venture capital start-ups in, say, Albania. And just because Americans sometimes like to work really long hours and make huge amounts of money doesn’t mean everybody in the country does. Generalizing, as do some posters here, reflects lazy and somewhat myopic thinking. Slamming America for leading the world in production, in innovation, and in just about everything else, reflects, at least to me, personal insecurity.
    The guy in the Cadillac commercial doesn’t reflect fear, and that seems to bother a number of very scared, very weak, very underachieving people, and some others who clearly have a problem with their place in the world.
    I share the simplify ethos. I want as little around me as possible, because I like living clean and lean. I get more done with less stuff around me. I save as much money as possible. I forgo many things on which people who make even less than I routinely spend money. But if you want to buy a ridiculously expensive hybrid car, be my guest. And if you make tons of money, why not? Thank God we live in a country where we can not only earn the money to afford things like Cadillac hybrids, but where we are free to comment about commercials about them.
    Live long and prosper!

  37. This ad has been playing endlessly through the Olympics, and it wasn’t until about my 8th viewing that I realized it was for the electric Cadillac. As a marketing professional, I don’t think it should be unobvious what the product is that’s being advertised and frankly this ad isn’t funny enough to be appreciated. I do admit, however, to liking the little jab at Euro vacations – I work at a global company and we in the US are endlessly envious of our EMEA counterparts.

  38. I hate this ad. It portrays American arrogance, which so many countries abhor. Do we really need to go there? No, we don’t. Lot’s of countries work hard, and if Europeans choose to take August off I think it’s just a tribute to the extreme effort put in to the other 11 months of the year. Let’s cease with this American arrogance, please! We don’t need this in the global community which we Americans are a part of. And just a little added addendum, I applaud Russia for the Sochi Olympics despite all the criticism of situations there. Things don’t need to be perfect – it’s the global teammanship that counts.

  39. avatar
    ELFIE MAJOIE says:

    About the ridiculous CADILLAC advertising … I am a french native and I have heard so many times that our people are lazy, and do not work enough !! It is not true. When I was working in France, I had my vacations but still was working around 65 hours a week as I was in PR …
    Anyway, the story is that DETROIT has been founded by a french noble name La Mothe de Cadillac, born in Southwest France and the car name of Cadillac comes also from him. May be the Advertising company should have know before creating this ad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Laumet_de_La_Mothe,_sieur_de_Cadillac

  40. Thanks for writing this. I agree 100%. The first time I saw this spot, I couldn’t believe what I had just seen and heard. I assumed it must be a spoof. It had to be; it couldn’t possibly be for real.

    But after multiple viewings, I had to conclude it was for real. And it was just unbelievably offensive.

    Other commenters have already mentioned all of the reasons why this spot is so over-the-top awful. First, because it celebrates a twisted, materialistic ethic. Second, because of its sneering, condescending attitude towards Europeans (who enjoy a lifestyle many of us envy), and third…well, the list goes on and on. I just pray it hasn’t boosted Cadillac sales.

    Has anyone else noted that the script itself makes no sense? At the beginning, the guy says we don’t work hard “for the stuff”. But in the end, it’s ALL about the “stuff”. So what was the point? It’s completely contradictory.

    I also find it interesting that this commercial was produced just as the country is pulling itself out of a terrible recession with record unemployment. Many people are lucky just to have jobs and afford even any car. And now we’ve jumped from there all the way to a grotesque worship of luxury? (Or maybe Cadillac knows that crass materialistic ethos has never gone away…sadly, in that regard, they are not off the mark).

    The first time I saw this commercial, I was going to rush to the computer and blog about it myself. Luckily, I didn’t have to. You did it for me. So have some other bloggers. And the spot was mentioned on Bill Maher’s show…I was happy to see that.

    I keep waiting for a worthy spoof commercial. Ford has produced one that is getting a lot of traction, but I don’t think they nailed it. To truly spoof this abominable piece of crap, it would have to be done from the Europeans’ perspective. I keep wishing someone would try that angle…it could be hilarious.

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  43. I truly do adore satire, although as if you stated, this is absolutely aired inside drastically wrong occasion video slot. Youngsters don’t obtain satire as well as grownups typically aren’t seeking to tv ads intended for satire. It merely looked definitely major to my opinion, specially the unpleasant United states stereotype in it. It merely definitely didn’t come across nicely to my opinion in any way.

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