PUBLISHED : FRI, 14 FEB 2014, 04:06 PM
UPDATED : FRI, 11 APR 2014, 01:35 PM
The American carmaker General Motors has resorted to bashing French citizens for their unique culture in the new "Work Hard" TV commercial for the 2014 Cadillac ELR Coupe hybrid. Neal McDonough, who stars in the controversial new Cadillac commercial, mocks French cafés, the French family values sensibility that places a special importance on the annual summer vacation, and France's emphasis on quality of life. The commercial implies that the French do not work hard at all, nor are the French capable of accomplishing major scientific breakthroughs, like landing on the moon -- an example of "American exceptionalism." Meanwhile, the truth is that the French invented each of aviation, motion pictures, and antibiotics ; they revolutionized astronomy and statistics ; and a Frenchman created the first digital form of writing, Braille, amongst many other notable breakthroughs. Indeed, René Lorin, a Frenchman, invented the ramjet, a supersonic jet engine that allowed later jets to travel at speeds between Mach 3 and Mach 6. Mr. McDonough does not ever identify France in the commercial as the target of his scorn, but the litany of his generalizations and stereotypes unmistakably points to France, and, as if to remove all doubt, at the end of his rant, he asks with a knowing wink, "N'est-ce pas ?"
Adding to the controversy, this commercial has been being broadcast during the karmically-doommed Sochi Winter Olympics, the latter which has become the target of global protests over the violent anti-LGBT crackdown taking place in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
(An earlier YouTube video of the Cadillac commercial, which went viral after TV viewers become outraged by the discriminatory commercial's theme, was mysteriously
censored removed from YouTube. A replacement video was subsequently also censored removed from YouTube.)
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Mr. McDonough, who stars in the Cadillac ELR Coupe hybrid commercial, is a handsome and charismatic actor, who has attracted widespread goodwill in Hollywood for his roles in movies, like Captain America : The First Avenger, in which he played Dum Dum Dugan. How much goodwill will it personally cost Mr. McDonough with his fans for having made this controversial commercial ? What's been the reputational risk ?
Social ills, like de facto discrimination, are usually based on ignorance. It's not known why U.S. networks on broadcast and cable TV would accept money in exchange for airing this commercial, given the controversial use of harmful and stupid generalizations of the French. For GM's part, that ignorance is all the more clear. The luxury automaker brand of Cadillac was named after a French explorer, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. It's unknown whether GM's advertising executives are even educated about how the new French-bashing Cadillac TV commercial actually attacks the company's namesake's own homeland ?
Perhaps in a wink and a nod to their Red State-minded target customers, the controversial Cadillac commercial was produced by a new advertising outfit known as Rogue, an Interpublic Group of Cos. team reporting to the following GM executives : Bob Ferguson, vice president of Global Cadillac ; Craig Bierley, Cadillac's advertising director ; and Steven Majoros, a former Campbell Ewald advertising agency executive now at Cadillac, according to a pre-commercial review of Cadillac's marketing team by Advertising Age. The advertising agency Campbell Ewald had previously done work for GM for its Chevrolet unit. Adweek provides the complete credits for the controversial Cadillac commercial.
That GM is integrating cultural contempt and bullying of the French in its new Cadillac commercial is a new low for the once great carmaker. Once the largest automobile manufacturer in the world, GM has since yielded that title to Toyota. In the wake of this "identity crisis" for GM, it's now developed a dubious track record of making commercials that have been judged to be controversial at best and racist at worst. The commercial for the 2013 Chevrolet Trax subcompact crossover was called racist over its use of a controversial Chinese soundtrack.
GM further sparked controversy when some politicians questioned whether the automaker was deliberately underpaying its new CEO, Mary Barra, because she is a woman. Institutionalised de facto discrimination runs rampant at GM. Whether you are French, Chinese, female, Black, or belong to a union, it seems that the troubled automaker is intent on insulting your equality.
Maybe GM wouldn't have such a hard time selling cars to people, if it first learned to treat people with dignity and respect. Compris ?