Cadillac XT5 Driver Pulls Off a Better Ad Than Cadillac's Marketing Agency Ever Dreamed Up

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Maybe that headline’s too harsh, but have you seen a recent Cadillac commercial? If nothing comes to mind, that merely illustrates the brand’s problem. The bulk of its marketing efforts are, in this writer’s opinion, boring, forgettable, and uninspired. Just showing that a crossover can drive sedately down a dry, urban street isn’t enough to get audiences jazzed over a purchase. A Trabant can drive down a street and, yes, people can be merry and youthful inside it. (Odds are against it, but it could happen.)

Scroll down to see one of the brand’s latest, this one for its new XT4 compact. You won’t thank me.

Let’s face it — most of Cadillac’s ads could cure sleep apnea, leaving sufferers refreshed and alert the next morning. It was against this grim marketing backdrop that, while viewing a news spot from last night’s Great Lakes region snowstorm, I watched a random driver create the best ad Cadillac never paid for.

Toronto, rumored to be the only city in Canada, was socked with over a foot of snow last night. As the white stuff overwhelmed freeways and urban streets, drivers did the best they could to make it home. Those who figured they’d take a pass on winter rubber this year found themselves boned.

The short clip tweeted out by NEWSTALK 1010 was everything a would-be Cadillac XT5 owner — especially an urban Northerner — would need to see in order to expedite the purchase. See for yourself:

Watch: lots of vehicles dealing with high snow drifts on side streets, but this SUV wasn’t waiting. For the latest on cancellations, road conditions and more during this , tune to NEWSTALK1010.

— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) January 29, 2019

As that poor Cobalt struggles in vain to break through a snow ridge deposited by a passing plow, our undaunted XT5 owner (who clearly parks indoors), heeding a green light, pulverizes the ridge and executes a purposeful left-hand turn before speeding off to their destination, completely unruffled. It’s a perfect representation of the image of capability and elegance Cadillac attempts — and mostly fails — to get across.

With the exception of a recent razor commercial, advertising aims to show the viewer what the product can do for them, not the other way around. This clip shows it all. First off, the driver feels such confidence in their vehicle that a cautious creep over the snowbank isn’t needed. Nor does the vehicle leave its front fascia lying in pieces on the cold pavement after that hard smack. As the XT5’s rear wheels come online, the vehicle leaps out of the mess and, after a bad-ass bit of rear-end yaw halfway through the turn, the electronic nannies fire up to right the ship. Everyone went exactly as planned.

Sorry, Mother Nature — maybe next time…

Contrast that clip with this XT4 spot:

Which one is more persuasive?

In the news spot, we see how the composed lifestyle of an urban professional isn’t upended by the sudden appearance of inclimate weather and natural obstacles, all thanks to Cadillac’s thoughtful packaging. In the Cadillac ad, we see dancing. Other ads feature high-minded talk about our very existence.

It’s a good thing the brand’s heading home from New York.

If I called any shots at Cadillac, I’d amass a collection of real-world clips showing the brand’s vehicles doing what their specs promise, incorporate them into an ad, then blanket social media and YouTube. I think I’d call the series … Real People.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Phalkon Phalkon on Jan 30, 2019

    always fun when the airbags deploy because a mailbox was buried under the snowbank

  • Wodehouse Wodehouse on Jan 30, 2019

    I wish Cadillac had taken inspiration from those smart 2018 Buick Encore adverts, or, at the very least, show more of the XT4 so that I can be sure that it isn't a Chevy Trax. Those Encore spots are like micro-sitcoms: A well meaning person gets caught in an awkwardly funny situation. Cue the Encore Song and here comes the tiny Buick with useful features to the rescue.

  • Billccm I think we will see history repeat itself. The French acquired AMC in the 1980s, discovered they couldn't make easy money, sold AMC off to Chrysler. Jeep is all that remained. This time the French acquired FCA, and they are discovering no easy profits. Assume an Asian manufacturer will acquire what remains of Chrysler, but this time Jeep and RAM are the only survivors.
  • William I feel very sorry for those who attempt to use an attack on a product as a way to deprecate an individual whose politics they disagree with. They delude themselves and mislead others.
  • Arthur Dailey Have to admit that I love that interior colour. And also like the upholstery on the seats and the inside of the door panels. And when was the last time you saw a door hanging coffee cup holder? Some here probably didn't know that such a device existed.
  • Buickman this is about cars. I miss Robert.
  • 28-Cars-Later Can we end debt slavery next? Its getting to the point where its no longer voluntary.