Collective Values In the Cadillac-Ford Ad War
Len CruzRecent advertisements by Cadillac and Ford caught my attention partly because when advertisers begin waging ad wars like these, there are reasons to conclude that tow distinct polarities have coalesced in our collective unconscious.[i] Apple exploiting dystopian view alluding to Orwell’s work reminded me of the iconic 1984 advertisement. The collective roots of that phenomenally successful commercial suggest that there has been a coalescence of collective worldview. The iconic Apple advertisement only aired twice involved the tension between conformity and Apple’s effort to save humanity from such a droll, lifeless existence that would enslave us to Microsoft, IBM and the PC the evidence suggests that there’s been a collective coalescence.[ii] The tension highlighted in the Cadillac and Ford advertisements points to a newly appearing enantiodromia in our collective experience of why we work. What has coalesced in these vignettes are two very different collections of values that are in tension. Here are a few examples of things that may contribute to the formation of such a dichotomy.
- Conflicting reports about the catastrophic effect of global warming and reports that global warming is a myth.
- Environmentalist groups sounding the alarm about Colony Collapse Disorder[iii] and while others seek to debunk such claims as junk science.[iv]
- Environmental despair[v] [vi] is a real phenomenon.
- In a chapter titled “Extreme Economics “ in Rebecca D. Costa’s The Watchmen’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse[vii] some of the underpinnings of the vignette portrayed by the actor in the Cadillac commercial are examined.
- Both advertisements use drastically different approaches to highlight differences. Below are a few examples that jumped out at me.
- Acoustic guitar plays in the background.
- Lighting and opening scene is colorful and bright.
- Protagonist is a white, confident, almost Aryan appearing male.
- Actor is dismissive about countries that place value on leisure.
- Listen to the overt claims of American Exceptionalism.
- The Moral: you work hard, create your own luck, believe anything is possible (anything refers to what the individual can achieve for himself).
- The commercial ends with the actor wearing a very crisp grey suit getting into a grey electric Cadillac, the symbol of this worldview. Does the grey suggest we should be comfortable with the grey scale blurring of issues wherein the Art of Selfishness can be mitigated by an electric luxury vehicle?
- Music has a slightly mechanical, industrial sound.
- Opening scene is brown, black and white. (Stark.)
- The protagonist is a tall, African-American, upbeat woman with a big afro that evoked some mixture of Angela Davis and Erykah Badu.
- Real Activist[viii] points toward countries who stroll to their maket to buy locally grown food.
- Listen to the openness to learning from other countries who value sustainable practices; there is a distinct absence of American Exceptionalism.
- The Motto: work hard, anything is possible, you try to make the world a better place, you try!
- The commercial ends with a white vehicle with the protagonist now dressed more colorfully but not in a way that distinguishes her from the masses. Does the choice of a white vehicle seek to make the issue that clean and simple?
Enantiodromia: the tendency of one pole of an experience to change into its opposite (term coined by Greek philosopher Heraclitus). See compensation. For Jung, all life and energy are a play of opposites. To avoid falling into enantiodromia one must value both opposites (see transcendent function).[ix]Keep in mind that both advertisements share the same objective, to entice the viewer to buy their vehicle. Both advertisements are tapping a collective realm, a Weltanschuuang where the implications may be almost beyond our capacity to fathom. The advertisements succeed because they capture some essential features of a coalescing enatiodromia. The Cadillac commercial epitomizes the values that have been glorified lately by politicians and pundits claiming to be believers in Ayn Rand’s philosophy. In contrast, the Ford commercial epitomizes a perspective implied in popular books like 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth.[x] Here are two questions I want to pose to readers in hopes of fostering discussion.
- Are there actually two coalescing Weltanschuuang revealed in these two commercials?
- If there is an enantiodromia being exploited in these advertisements, how might the transcendent function guide us in cultivating a conjunction oppositorum.