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.”
The Tweedledums gave away a trillion dollars to the vultures in charge of juggling the great growing wodges of surplus capital* the overclass can’t find a place to invest productively.
A day or two after his victory, the Tweedle-D’s new President-elect revealed that his idea of “helping the middle class” is another give-away — this time, to the U.S.-based automobile corporations!
Now, Tweedle-D Party Radio, a.k.a. “Air America Radio,” has its stable of parrots squawking about what a grand, populist, commoner-helping thing this is “bailout” would be.
And, even as I type, the CEOs who pay themselves king’s ransoms to destroy the planet, squander its finite supply of energy, and murder 40,000 of their countrymen every year are up on Capitol Hill, begging bowls out and solemn professions of socio-economic concern/threat on their caviared lips.
What a freaking crock! Let’s take a quick peek at what’s actually being proposed here, shall we?
The monstrosity depicted at left is the sort of “cutting edge” new technology that is the supposed point and promise of a post-bailout Detroit. It is, you see, a “hybrid” Cadillac Escalade! It has an electric motor to complement its conventional V8! Dare we dream of such a gloriously transformed future? I swoon.
No, wait, I’m outraged.
Even the “car enthusiast” motorheads who write automobile reviews for The New York Times can spot this portentous scam:
You can coax the Escalade Hybrid into electric-only mode, same as a Prius, but if you need to accelerate at all, or go up the slightest hill, or go faster than 30 miles an hour, you awaken the 332-horsepower V-8 under the hood.
Therein lies the dilemma of this truck: its mileage is great compared with a regular Escalade’s, but that’s like saying the American economy is great compared with Zimbabwe’s.
I managed to eke out 22.3 miles a gallon on one highway-biased trip, and about 20 m.p.g. over all. The hybrid system’s benefit is most pronounced in urban driving, where Cadillac claims a 50 percent improvement in fuel economy. (The gas-only Escalade is rated 12 m.p.g. in town, 18 on the highway, with all-wheel drive.)
Bizarrely, the Environmental Protection Agency does not provide mileage estimates for the four-wheel-drive Escalade Hybrid because its weight vaults it into the category of heavy-duty trucks, which need not be rated.
To create the Escalade Hybrid and its full-size Chevrolet and GMC siblings, G.M. cooperated with BMW and the former DaimlerChrysler to develop a mind-boggling hybrid transmission that can deploy two 60-kilowatt electric motors in tandem with a gas engine, operating either in continuously variable mode or through four fixed gears.
The system also captures regenerative braking energy and uses an auto-stop feature to minimize idling. Using this technology, G.M. can wring more than 20 m.p.g. out of its full-size S.U.V.’s.
But we’re still talking about a three-ton truck. Mercedes boasts that a 200-pound man can sit atop a C-Class door without damaging the hinges; with the Escalade, it feels as if the 200-pound-man is already inside the door.
What if, instead of all the hybrid trickery, you simply subtracted 1,000 pounds of weight, using unibody construction and a direct-injection V-6 engine paired with a conventional six-speed automatic? Couldn’t you have an equally posh and enormous three-row interior with all-wheel-drive and 20 m.p.g. economy? You certainly could, because I just described the Buick Enclave, a vehicle in G.M.’s own portfolio that underscores the Escalade Hybrid’s Rube Goldberg approach to efficiency.
Of course, what the Times‘ auto critic is never going to tell you is that automobiles — all automobiles — are Rube Goldberg machines. With a few exceptions like ambulances and fire trucks, using them to accomplish mundane trips around town is like using a chainsaw to slice and butter your morning toast. It is the ultimate capitalist boondoggle: Selling the schlemiels two (or more) tons of unnecessary shit instead of a bike or a tennis shoe or a subway ticket! What a great gig! Accumulate, accumulate — that is Moses and the Prophets!
And you also see here what a fucking joke things like “hybrid” engines are going to be in the hands of private industry. Slap that label on the thing, and the schlemiels stop asking questions! A great marketing tool!
What we need to do, of course, is to nationalize the automobile corporations, and use their assets to manufacture rail stock and other equipment needed for rebuilding our towns to favor walking, bicycling, and rail travel. As a stopgap, we should also manufacture and distribute very simple automobiles that get 40 MPG or better, and tax the hell out of both gasoline and gas-guzzlers.
* In case you’re interested in these kinds of things, Keynes used the term “surplus capital” in The Economic Consequences of the Peace. Of course, “surplus capital” is also “surplus surplus,” since capital is society’s savings, its fund for repairing and transforming itself.
Cadillac, the second-most disgusting (after Hummer) branch of General Motors, is running a new television ad for its rolling super-atrocity, the Escalade “SUV.”
In the new ad, the snotty, moronic driver comments about how, now that he’s gone ahead and bought himself an Escalade, he can finally come out and say what everybody knows: At bottom, life is really just “high school with money.”
This, of course, is a focus-group-tested enticement to those who might afford the Escalade’s $57,000+ price-tag to indulge themselves by — as the jackass in the ad says — “graduating” into the reality of acquisitive trampling embodied in this awful product.
Now, it’s not often that corporate marketing messages convey much truth. Yet, at least this one time, I do think there’s something quite true, if only unintentionally so, to be seen here: The “high school with money” line strikes me as being a rather powerful description of the social psychology of the American overclass and its upper-middle-class fringes.
If you doubt this, I would challenge you to go into a yupper-class neighborhood and spend a few hours observing the words, actions, and physiognomies of the clipped, flippant, spoiled, self-indulgent little seekers the system attracts into its top positions. These Biffs and Buffies do indeed behave like a pack of rollicking 17-year-old partyers. Hell, with all the sweatsuits, the ball-caps, the hot rods, and the near-universal huffing-up of Botox and hair dye, they even LOOK like a clique of narcissistic hallway debs and jock/bullies, albeit rather ghoulish, cadaverish ones.
And, just like real high-school brats, they also have utterly, absolutely no idea that their world might turn out to be anything other than natural and timeless. Clueless is as clueless does.