Ford to Cadillac: Not Everyone in America Is a Materialistic Jerk

A blog about business and economics.
March 31 2014 1:48 PM

Ford Skewers Cadillac With Perfect Parody of “Poolside” Ad

N'est-ce pas?

Screengrab from YouTube

Why do you work? To get more stuff, or to help improve the world?

Ford is banking on the latter to resonate with idealistic consumers across America and really anyone who was put off by a crassly materialistic ad Cadillac released during the Olympics in February. In case you missed it, the original “Poolside” ad featured Neal McDonough lecturing about the supremacy of the American work ethic as he surveys his pool, strides through his expansive house, slips on a suit, and then revs up his Cadillac. Here's an excerpt:

Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the café. They take August off. Off. Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that? Because we’re crazy-driven hardworking believers, that’s why. … It’s pretty simple. You work hard, you create your own luck, and you’ve got to believe anything is possible. As for all the stuff, that’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August. N'est-ce pas?

Not surprisingly, many weren’t thrilled with the shallowness and materialism portrayed in the Cadillac ad, and last week Ford capitalized on that displeasure. In a new video, Ford rewrites the Cadillac framework to star Pashon Murray, founder of sustainable agriculture company Detroit Dirt, who walks among compost heaps and through community gardens as she explains her quest to make the world better:

Me, I collect food scraps from restaurants. Manure from zoos. Manure. Do you know why? To keep the stuff out of landfills and use it to make good rich dirt, that’s why. Yeah, look, it’s pretty simple. You work hard, you believe that anything is possible, and you try to make the world better. You try. As for helping the city grow good green healthy vegetables, that’s the upside of giving a damn. N'est-ce pas?

The message Ford is sending is pretty clear: Which do you want to be, America? One of Cadillac’s condescending “crazy-driven hardworking believers” who sneer at the work ethic of other nations? Or a “crazy entrepreneur trying to make the world better.” Sure, the ads cater to different demographics. But in this case, Cadillac’s message flew way off mark while Ford’s was right on target.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.



The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?