Sunday, August 31, 2014

American Ideals Through Commercials

In 2014, Cadillac released a commercial called Poolside that stirred controversy over the issues of extreme patriotism and exceptionalism. The commercial features a buff man in a suit and tie talking about hard working Americans, who have material goods because those goods are “the benefit of taking only two weeks off in August,” when earlier the spokesperson reprimanded European culture for taking the month of August out of work. He talks about how America is far superior to any nation, and “claimed the moon.”

The commercial is not an accurate representation of American culture, and does not speak to a large portion of hardworking Americans through unsuccessfully encouraging the American philosophy that if a person works hard, they can get anything they want.

The commercial does not speak to a large portion of America because the spokesperson is a wealthy, obtrusive man who speaks his ideas as if they are facts. He says, “ We went up there (the moon) and you know what we got? Bored. So we left. Got a car up there. Left the keys in it. You know why? Because we’re the only ones going back up there, that’s why.” He plays up American success, only to talk to the intended audience as if they are a three year old incapable of understanding the supposed greatness of America. The inflection of his voice appears as if his thoughts are the correct ones, and the audience’s opinions hardly matter. He ostracizes immigrants and foreign citizens by believing America has conquered everything, and that nobody would dare question the superiority of Americans. His wealth detracts from the intent of the commercial because a majority of working Americans spend hours upon hours trying to climb the ladder of society, only to see their hopes become unfulfilled.

The backlash to this commercial displays how Americans want to move away from the stereotypical view of foreigners that Americans are narcissistic. In response, Ford released a commercial, called Upside, that displayed what an actual working class American felt and believed. That commercial reaches a larger audience because it understands that Americans want to make the place they live better. The spokeswoman says, “you work hard, you try to make the world better, you try.” The spokeswoman accepts failure, while still encouraging the public to get up and make the world a better place, while the Cadillac commercial has no vision and talks about the successes of one nation.

The contradictions and reactions between these two commercials illustrate that Americans are tired of hearing about working hard and getting good things for themselves, but want to help make the world a better place.


  1. This is very interesting! It's good to see that people aren't as accepting of the narcissistic American stereotype as they once were. It would be helpful if I could see the commercials and the contrast between them, or one of the ways viewers had responded to them, but overall I thought your analysis was very well presented and written.

  2. Really cool analysis on these two commercials. I havent seen either of them, but your writing made me curious about both! Your conclusion brought up some good points about America expressing a need to change the stereotypical views that we have made.