By on January 29, 2019

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:

 

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.

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55 Comments on “Cadillac XT5 Driver Pulls Off a Better Ad Than Cadillac’s Marketing Agency Ever Dreamed Up...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Heck, an Ecosport could probably do that.

    I don’t know that “hey, it’s good in the snow” is a huge selling point here – pretty much everything in this class is.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    I’m one of the few who roots for Cadillac (it’s like being a Cubs fan). I even own one that I bought with my own money.

    Regarding the XT4 commercial, to many of us here, yes, it’s ridiculous. But to the target demo — (basic) millennial women — the XT4 spot speaks their language perfectly. I consider the entire compact luxury crossover class to be a class that sells in GREAT majority to females (or if they’re purchased by a male, driven by a wife or daughter). A little Ariana, “funky” styling, Apple CarPlay, a nice interior, and some dancing. Engine? Torque? Who cares?! Drive wheels? UM IT HAS FOUR WHEELS AND CARPLAY! OMG! Totes amaze! It’s pandering to the female millennial demo so hard that I actually kind of respect it.

    I think car companies should do more to differentiate their ads for different models based on the target audience. The XT4 ad is fine, for the XT4.

    They better not run ads like this for the CT5.

    • 0 avatar
      salmonmigration

      This ad isn’t an ad for XT4 buyers. It’s an ad for GM’s middle managers that select ad agencies.

      Every ad run by GM has the same problem.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      Exactly. The XT4 ad hits its target market right in the bullseye. Steph either has no understanding of marketing, or more likely, just couldn’t resist taking a cheap shot at Cadillac here. I guess he was running under his month-end Caddy-bashing quota required of TTAC writers and had to resort to desperate measures.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I wholly disagree.

      This is the kind of ad a 55 year old man thinks a 40 year old woman wants to see, and therefore its the type of ad a 55 year old man approves that was designed by a committee of 60 year old men and 25 year old creatives.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike-NB2

      “But to the target demo — (basic) millennial women — the XT4 spot speaks their language perfectly. I consider the entire compact luxury crossover class to be a class that sells in GREAT majority to females (or if they’re purchased by a male, driven by a wife or daughter). A little Ariana, “funky” styling, Apple CarPlay, a nice interior, and some dancing. Engine? Torque? Who cares?! Drive wheels? UM IT HAS FOUR WHEELS AND CARPLAY! OMG! Totes amaze!”

      With that one post I’m now questioning whether you are a long-lost brother. Those are my thoughts exactly.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    I mean you’re not wrong, it is better than the regular ad.

    Idk why, but this video reminded me how the XT5 is not a good looking vehicle imo. It looks like an odd blob thing with no real character. The XT4 is much better in the regard. Sad.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      What I saw there was the Cadillac of EcoSports!

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        the busting through the snow and away we will go ad is the best 14 second ad I’ve ever seen and no funky music playing! Cadillac ad men take note! reminds me of when I lived in Michigan, couldn’t wait for the snow to fall and the challenge to get out and do some busting myself and of course some donuts also! here in the Nashville area just the talk of snow sends panic and confusion, schools shut down, people stock up on groceries, call off sick – I laugh!

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    The ads are boring because the cars are boring. Wait, did I say car? I meant CUV, what idiot advertises a car these days? The last auto ad I actually remember is the KIA chipmunks.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    And this, folks, is one of the reasons AWD crossovers are so popular. This is how I’ve had to drive around where I live for the last week or so, but you don’t need a Cadillac any old AWD can handle that

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      That was a mushy, wussy and narrow windrow, easily coasted through at 15 mph.

      The little red Nissan or whatever had to have balding tires to get no grip.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        I’m guessing the red car had been there since the last green light and he/she was working the car loose (you can see them back up to take another run). The driver probably stopped at the red light against the snow, tried to go from there, and got stuck that way. Decent tires and decent ground clearance sure help!

        “Windrow…” good word!

      • 0 avatar
        Buckwheat

        The driver of the red car should have turned off the traction control before the snow pile. Dummies get stuck like that all the time, thinking their traction control is gonna help.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      With the inertia and the fact that the snow was soft, yes any AWD CUV could have gotten through. However, not any AWD CUV could have done it quite as well. It was well executed, preemptive, torque vectoring AWD. A CR-V would have done a lot more sliding around.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        That’s because CR-Vs have the worst AWD system in the auto industry

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          The CR-V example was intentional, as an example of a vehicle that really would do poorly.

          Yet, they sell like hotcakes. Consumers!

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Informed consumers who know that Honda CR-V AWDs from 2012 on start in 4WD every time, and only disengage the rear axle when slip isn’t detected. Throw in their reliability and durability, and they actually have the best AWD system of any CUV.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            Best AWD of any CUV? Does it have a locking center diff like the Escape? Can the CR-V apply 100% power to the rear wheels? The answer is no. In fact the CR-V will disengage the rear wheels if used for too long or under stress, as the rear differential is prone to overheating.

          • 0 avatar
            SirRaoulDuke

            Todd, I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge against the CR-V in a Trailhawk. Renegade, Compass, or Cherokee. Any of them. Heck, I’ll put my 2007 Outlander up against the new CR-V and spank it.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Tires? Studs? They make a difference.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    If someone is buying an AWD SUV/CUV because ‘they are safer’ then the news video is the clear winner.

    And isn’t that why people buy vehicles with AWD? Or SUV’s/CUV’s rather than FWD wagons or sedans?

    And that driving exemplifies the attitude of previous generations who aspired to Cadillacs, the ‘I don’t give a #@+*, my Caddy can handle anything and get me anywhere in style, which your cheap little car can’t do’, attitude of those who lived through the Depression and WWII.

    As I drove through Toronto’s latest ‘Snowmageddon’ yesterday, it was obvious which drivers did not have ‘winter tires’. There were entire roads (Leslie, Yonge near Hogg’s Hollow, Dufferin, etc) which were closed down/at a complete halt as multiple vehicles could not make it up the inclines. Even the DVP northbound witnessed vehicles that were sliding on their summer donuts. And this included multiple trucks and AWD vehicles. My daughter witnessed a nearly new Explorer, complete a 360 on the 407 and luckily not hit anything.

    • 0 avatar
      jatz

      Tires, tires, tires!

      A/4WD for hilly places, maybe, but still, tires-tires-tires!

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Tires and ground clearance (doesn’t have to be much, 4-6″ is plenty in the city!).

        • 0 avatar
          jatz

          True dat. Ground clearance is especially critical when brodozers and other big-wheeled vehicles have churned up since-hardened snow.

          Little cars can’t drive in their ruts; their belly pans will founder on the height of the snow between them.

          But the tiny, mushy windrow in that video should be blastable by any car with good treads.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            I’m right there with you.

            The little car’s ground clearance doesn’t even have to be higher than the snow- as long as most of the bottom of the car is within an inch or two of the highest snow. That way the bottom parts of the car won’t put too much of the car’s weight against the snow *and off of the drive wheels.* The bottom parts being the belly pans, air dams, exhaust system, engine and transmission sumps, suspension, etc.

            The peaks of those little snowbanks and fresh snow drifts aren’t usually hard packed anyway. That helps a lot too.

            If the bottom parts hang a little too low, the tires are a little too crappy, and the driver’s skill/judgment fails, then you get turtled just like red did. Red was smart enough to get unstuck but a lot of drivers aren’t that smart.

          • 0 avatar
            jatz

            Hail, fellow long-time snow driver!

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      “If someone is buying an AWD SUV/CUV because ‘they are safer’… My daughter witnessed a nearly new Explorer, complete a 360 on the 407 and luckily not hit anything.”

      Really? The 407? In addition to the fearsome stretches of up to 1% grade, do any of the turns even have yellow speed caution signs?

      Heheh… the irony of buying an SUV to be “safe” and then spinning it out on a road like the 407.

      • 0 avatar
        forward_look

        We see plenty of them here in New York.* “I can go anywhere, I got 4 wheel drive on my Trax”. Ditches will be full of them tomorrow morning.

        *The real New York, not The City, the one with the snow (2 feet forecast on Thursday, wind chill -50F).

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Play the sound from the XT4 ad while you watch the Caddy in snow..there’s your ad…

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Must be a rental, hah!
    I was in Upstate NY last week during snowpocalypse and my rental XT5 aquitted itself quite well, performance-wise. Not sure about the ominous creaking and squeaking sound from the front-end at highway speeds though, and the stereo sound was awful.

  • avatar
    maestromario

    What’s so special about this? In Canada every driver does that with any car.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I was about to do that this morning, but then I remember that the last time I did it I ripped off a part of the dangling bits at the front of my car. I miss my old (original) Fiesta – it was cheap enough, and all metal so bashing through snow banks was no problem. (Not to mention the fact that 2 guys could easily lift the rear if it got stuck.)

      Good thing we have the word “insipid” or we’d have to invent it for the real Cadillac ad.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The snow Caddy probably has $1000 worth of valence panel damage and repaint ahead of it.

    The driver in the actual Cadillac ad is pretty good-looking.

    Neither video makes me want a Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Internauta car

    Here in Brazil happened something very similar and misleading, it was with a Troller (division of Ford Jeeps in Brazil), a Troller T4 model went through a flood with much ease, this was shown in a report on a TV channel, the brand saw and turned into advertising campaign, and did work, the fame of the model came in months.
    Anyone who has interest to see, search on Youtube “T4 commercial troller”.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    At the 11 second mark of the commercial when she makes the left hand turn, isn’t that a classic Mustang that you see? Parked on the right hand side.

    Why would a GM ad, contain a classic Mustang placement?

    Unless the people making the ad have absolutely no idea about cars or brands?

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Several have already described the “drive through the snow bank”.
    Maintain some momentum. Stopping in the middle of it is a 70% chance of having 0 traction.
    It also helps to know the intersection. Are there obstacles under that pile of snow?
    The current traction control electronics will help, but having some driving experience and good tires are also important.

  • avatar
    jatz

    OMG… I just watched Cadillac’s ad.

    She could’ve just stayed in her apartment, dropped acid and seen the same things.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    “Booty like a Cadillac”?

    So are we talking angular and oddly proportioned like a 1980 Seville, having strange glowing protuberances like a 1959 Coupe De Ville, or wide and flat, like anything from the 2000s onward?

  • avatar
    John R

    Meh. It just reminds me of how obnoxious some CUV/SUV/Truck owners can be when the weather turns foul.

  • avatar
    David

    Professional driver, closed course?

  • avatar
    someoldfool

    Someone call Peter DeLorenzo, the former GM marketing man who now edits “Autoextremist.” He always has much to say about stupid GM marketing.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    That video clip certainly had a certain “Out of my way you hapless peasant!” panache that’s not altogether out of place for Cadillac’s intended market.

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      Kind of… although I drive the same way in the snow, with a certain “Out of my way you incompetent snow driver!” panache, difference if I’m driving a crapbox, a rental, or something nice.

      :D

  • avatar
    phalkon

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

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    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.

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