Brand Provocation

Cadillac’s extra-obnoxious “Poolside” ad was, it now says, this:

The “Poolside” spot, created by ad agency Rogue, is intended to serve as a “brand provocation,” according to Craig Bierley, Cadillac’s advertising director.

Of course, the deeper story is the usual one. The ad is a piece of flattery designed to push the marginally comfortable into proving their upper-classiness by buying the $75,000 monstrosity it promotes.

Advertising Age interviewed Cadillac’s Mr. Bierley on the strong reaction to the spot. He said the spot’s been “misconstrued” by some viewers. He wanted to set the record straight. Among the misperceptions:

It’s aimed at the richest 1%

Not so, says Mr. Bierley. Rather than millionaires, the spot’s targeted at customers who make around $200,000 a year. They’re consumers with a “little bit of grit under their fingernails” who “pop in and out of luxury.”

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Overclass Chutzpah

Presenting the middle class — even the upper middle class — as the engine of Wall Street is one thing.  Attributing ethics to these navel-gazing SUV polishers is another.  But suggesting that “accountability” could ever apply to the whole financial tail-chase?  That, as they say, is priceless:

[Current Charles Schwab commercial titled "Around Here" that won't load to TCT.]

Of course, the true message, as Leslie Savan classically suggested would so often be the case, is mere and simple flattery of the target audience.

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Death of a Nation

rip The Nation has long since been all but unreadable. Now, they are turning themselves in a tchotchke peddler. And the geegaws are utterly terrible, too. If liberals were half as smart as they like to think they are (or as The Nation tells them they are), this crap wouldn’t be possible.

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Some Farmer Math

Harvey Mussolini certainly would have been proud of Signore Marchionne’s “God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl ad. It is a classic piece of fascist propaganda, aimed at the usual target — insecure lower-middle class white men. Nationalist, racist, profoundly irrationalist and macho-sentimental.

The core of the irrationality is the ad’s (and the underlying essay’s) intentional, reactionary obliteration of the huge institutional differences between the facts of the present and an idealized past. The ad (and essay) clearly paints today’s “farmer” as the same figure as yesterday’s — i.e., as a worker, rather than a mere business manager. That is, of course, a huge laugh. As observed by Alexis Madrigal, in an excellent story we linked yesterday:

It’s true that whites are the managers of 96 percent of the nation’s farms, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture. But the agricultural workforce is overwhelmingly Mexican with some workers from Central America thrown in. The Department of Labor’s National Agriculture Worker Survey has found that over the last decade, around 70 percent of farmworkers in America were born in Mexico, most in a few states along the Pacific coast. This should not be news. Everyone knows this is how farms are run.

This, of course, is indeed well known, though apparently not strongly enough to keep Chrysler’s target audience — white, lower-middle class, urban, suburban, and exurban “country” dudes — from seeing through the ideological game being run on them.

Meanwhile, the real point here, in the TCT view, is the basic math of the thing. To wit:

According to the latest surveys:

The average individual farmworker income ranged from $12,500 to $14,999 and the average total family income ranged from $17,500 to $19,999.

Farmworkers worked an average of 42 hours per week.

Only 39 percent of farmworkers reported being covered by unemployment insurance, 54 percent said they were not and 8 percent did not know.

A mere 8 percent of farmworkers reported being covered by employer-provided health insurance, a rate that dropped to 5 percent for farmworkers who are employed seasonally and not year-round.

The asking price for the most stripped down (and best-selling) Ram pickup truck? $22,640, or more than one-and-one-half times the total annual income for the typical person who actually does the tasks described in the Chrysler ad.

To borrow a line from another fascist personality: When I hear the word “farmer,” I reach for my revolver.

And, these days, behind every non-humble farmer fantasy stands our market-totalitarian overclass and its army of commercial indoctrinators.

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Pushing Pablum With Mental Pablum

McDonalds-Sign Coke isn’t alone, of course. One wonders which will give you diabetes faster — regularly eating the food at McDonald’s, or “following” its Twitter feed.

Marketing news site contently glowingly reports the following:

Aside from when Mickey D’s is promoting its newest products or the comeback of a favorite menu item (McRibs or Shamrock Shakes, anyone?), the Twitter resembles that of any other user. The company posts updates such as, “’If we didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you. If you’d never been born, well then what would you do?’ Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!” and “Happy Thursday everyone! Hope your day is off to a great start!”

It even re-tweets updates unrelated to the company like “Those small words someone can say that makes your day ten times better. #LittleThings” and “I try to be the 1 person to stand up and do something for someone when everyone else sits and watches. #littlethings.”

It’s fitting that McDonald’s Twitter updates are positive and uplifting, considering that its trademark colors are bright, it serves Happy Meals, and its slogan is “I’m lovin’ it.” The company is all about happiness, and this effectively translates over to its presence on Twitter.

Along with never posting negative content, the McDonald’s Twitter feed is clearly run by everyday people. Its ten Twitter representatives sign their tweets with their initials, posting statuses like “It’s Friday! How is everyone this morning? ^MO” and “Good morning and happy Tuesday! Very grateful for the McCafé Mocha that’s about to help me get my day started! ^MO.”

The advertising is in there, but it’s not so direct — people update their Facebooks or Twitter accounts all the time mentioning restaurants or products. Rick Wion, McDonald’s social media director, told PR Daily, “People want to connect with actual people on Twitter.” Instead of sounding like an automated machine, the company’s account is personal and heartfelt.

Over 300,000 people “follow” this line of brand-building condescension and lies, by the way. “The company is all about happiness!” I’m sure that news will go over really well at the next shareholders meeting.

What a culture we get.

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Coke Tries to Flatter a Continent

Our friend Nercules passes along this breathtaking piece of marketing tripe:

It is, of course, an attempt at flattery. That’s a classic marketing ploy. It also reveals that the Coca-Cola Company sees the entire population of Africa as mental children.

Meanwhile, one ponders which is more offensive: selling sugar-water to poor people, or a corporation based on selling sugar-water to poor people having a net income greater than the gross domestic product of 28 African nations.

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