The social logic of consumerism communicates identity, social status, and draws the lines for in groups and out groups. As consumers, we are told that the only way to represent ourselves to others is through the unbridled consumption of goods, products, and services. But we are sold more than just stuff. We are sold ideologies, norms, expectation, goals, prosperity, happiness. Through the repeated exposure to these words, language, and stories we come to adopt the norms as our own until we cannot separate our unique wants and desires from those we are bombarded with through the media.
In this video, Cadillac is clearly selling us the neoliberal dialogue; individualism, self-determination, ethnocentrism. But we’re also being sold something else: an electric car. Does this intersection of sustainable technology and capitalist consumption suggest a shift in society’s value system? Or does the blatant reinforcement of neoliberal principals negate the fact that we are being sold an electric car?
Keep in mind, this car is for rich people. Which means this ad is meant for rich people. Does that mean that this is the very type of mass media that hinders the ability for new (non capitalist-consumer focused) words, language, and stories to enter the American dialogue? Or does this mean that (presumably) older, white, rich people are demanding sustainable luxury vehicles? If the sense of alienation is a purposeful marketing tactic then good work Cadillac, I now have no plans to ever buy your cars (even if I could afford it).
Ford has since issued a parody response:
This version is obviously more focused on sustainability, diversity, and possibility but still has hints of neoliberal language. Since we are still being sold a product within the confines of neoliberal ideology, is this commercial really any different than Cadillac’s? I think it’s at least a step in the right direction.
On a side note, the original Cadillac commercial aired during the Olympics, which may be a discussion for another day.