Video: 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Builds Brand, Waltzes Over Wagner

September 13, 2010

I'm not a huge fan of classical music, but believe it or not, this slave to punk rock music has seen and sat through a few operas -- and liked them. I even saw a Wagnerian opera that didn't make me fall asleep. You know why? It was big, loud, over the top and an aural delight. It had the automotive equivalent of bells and whistles, a rip-snorting V-8, and show-stopping good looks.

And it’s why I am comparing the Wagner opera to the ad for the 2011 Cadillac CTS-V, the American rich man’s version of the super-sedan category that German automakers pioneered some time ago and have dominated the world’s highways with for decades.

Wagner’s music is loud, proud and boastful and he puts his story in your face. The Cadillac CTS-V isn’t that different in terms of its automotive and branding intentions either. When you watch the ad for this car, you start to realize that it’s about boasting, it’s about coming over to the other guy’s territory and kicking his four-wheeled, direct-injected, Teutonic butt back to the backwoods of Bavaria. And it’s quite interesting just how delicately Cadillac uses its words when pushing the message of this ad. First watch it and then we’ll take a multiple choice exam.

I find it very interesting in this day and age when luxury car makers such as Cadillac advertise their premium product not by quoting the wrinkle-reducing, earth-slowing torque emitted by these spewing engines. Nor do they quote horsepower figures with enough digits to rival the debt of a small African nation. Nor is there ever mention of the 5000 head of pampered cattle who unwittingly gave their hides to pamper the buttocks of fat cats with lead feet.

Rather, they've taken their cue from just about every recruiter out there who tells you how to write your resume for maximum effectiveness. You list your achievements and value and net worth. In this ad, Cadillac gives you lots of examples of what you could do productively with nearly eight minutes of your time--shining wing tips being one of those things. However, Cadillac trounces all that by saying they spent nearly 8 minutes trying to break a record, trying to achieve something no other luxury supersedan has. They're showing their contribution to the automotive world: Hire me! Or rather, buy me! I am the CTS-V and I am great! Even under the toughest circumstances (read: at the Nuerburgring)!

Oh, and Cadillac didn't forget to run the entire commercial with a spine-tingling, viscerally high-octane V-8 soundtrack in the background, great footage of the track itself and just madly fast driving every owner wishes he or she could do once in a lifetime.

So to advertise in this league, Cadillac is saying, skip the numbers. Show that you are the greatest.

I wonder if Muhammad Ali gave Cadillac tips on branding.


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