Cadillac can add the French to the list of people its Poolside ad for the 2014 ELR has upset. The unexpectedly controversial ad first aired during coverage of the Winter Olympics in February, and sparked mixed reactions for boasting about the American work ethic and its subtle jabs at European countries, mainly France.
The commercial starred actor Neal McDonough parading around his house, talking about American values and accomplishments and how other countries just ‘stroll home, stop by the cafe… and take the whole of August off’. The ad never mentions France by name, but makes multiple references to the country, particularly when McDonough signs off with “As for the stuff, that’s the upside of taking just two weeks off in August. N’est-ce pas?”
According to The Daily Mail, French Media immediately took offense to the ad. French news publication The Local ran a story with the headline ‘Anti-French’ Cadillac ad sparks anger in France, while website Slate.fr ran the headline, The lamentable anti-French advert by Cadillac. Another magazine, Nouvel Obs, said the ad implied the French were ‘lazy, spending time relishing their paid holidays’.
The ad was never meant to air in Europe of course, and Caddy knows it could potentially be controversial for some viewers. The brand’s marketing chief, Uwe Ellinghaus, said in March that it is “something that I’d never, ever use to build the brand globally.”