[video] Cadillac ELR 2014 Commercial Critique – Expert Marketer Tim Burt Reviews

First, the commercial:

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this advertisement for the new Cadillac hybrid ELR. The message in the first 3/4 of the ad speaks to American gusto, which has received a lot of attention from right-wing talk shows. They contend this commercial should remind / instruct the country that (maybe) too many of its citizens have forgotten what it means to be “American.”

(No, I’m not criticizing or praising right-wing talk show hosts, or their ilk. My posts are strictly non-political.)


When Cadillac decides to jump in the (expanding) electric car market, it should be done with great fanfare.

After all, the classic “brand” of Cadillac conjures images of power, wealth, and class. Fossils who love fossil fuel.

“Electric” cars are for the eco-freaks. Young kids hell-bent on “saving the planet.”

At least that’s the stereotype.

Can these two diametrically opposed worlds collide – and succeed? Apparently so.

Clearly, market research showed Cadillac could make an electric vehicle that will sell.


This construction of this commercial is just outside of my “80/20 Death Trap” formula.

Far too many commercials spend 80% of their time with a setup that is loosely connected (or not at all) to the actual sales message – which makes up the other 20%.

In this instance, it’s about 77%-23%.

The setup of the story (American bravado, etc.) takes up 46 seconds, only leaving 13 1/2 seconds of actual selling of an exciting new product for Cadillac.

So what is more important? Clearly, the telling of the story is far more critical in the mind of the ad agency/Cadillac than giving us specifics.


  • How far will it go on one charge?
  • Is it available now?
  • It it comparable in price to other (seemingly expensive) electric cars?
  • How long does it take to fully recharge the battery?

Sadly, we don’t know. The commercial doesn’t say.

While I know some will make the argument that this is just a “teaser” commercial, wouldn’t Cadillac be better served shaving 15 seconds or so from the story – and selling us the car?


The biggest positive point of this commercial occurs at about :46, when our fearless, sharp-dressed storyteller pulls the charge cord out of the car.

Also, notice that he’s at the front of the car – not the back end, where you’d normally fill up.

In one of my recent free marketing webinars, I discussed “selling the impossible.”

In short: if your product, good, or service does something that the audience didn’t know could be done, show it to them.

Did you ever think you’d see an electric Cadillac? I certainly didn’t.


I love the idea of an electric car that doesn’t look like a breadbox (the Tesla excluded).

Perhaps in our lifetime, these types of vehicles will be the rule, not the exception.

As for selling the impossible? A+

This commercial has a great patriotic message – but I wish they had spent more time showing us the inside of this beautiful electric vehicle.

Overall, I give this a B.

Tim Burt



About timburtmedia

30,000+ ads globally. Commercial Advertising Marketing - world-wide audio producer, voice-over talent, copywriter.
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1 Response to [video] Cadillac ELR 2014 Commercial Critique – Expert Marketer Tim Burt Reviews

  1. Wow, this article is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these kinds of things,
    therefore I am going to convey her.

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