I saw an internet video ad for Cadillac and I was truly impressed. The ad begins with a fifty-ish guy walking through an office with a cardboard box. There is no audio save for the soundtrack throughout. The man stops to shake a few hands and leaves the building. He parks his car at the beach and stares out over the waves and then goes home. Clearly, he has retired and is contemplating the final chapter of his life. But wait. The next morning we see him kiss his wife goodbye at the breakfast table and leave the house wearing a tie. He shows up at a much less stodgy office building where we quickly see he has signed on to lead these modern young mavericks in a whole new enterprise. He conducts a business meeting from a couch with his shiny Cadillac parked outside.
My checking account admits to no immediate plans for a $70k ride but the ad was nice.
Then I saw another ad in the same series. A 29-ish woman walks through an office. Each time she encounters a man, he quickly tries to look busy. She steps onto an elevator with a man and the shot zooms in to the man's shirt pocket where his pen begins to leak, staining his shirt. The image clearly alludes to a man wetting his pants from fear. The ad closes with the woman behind the wheel of her shiny Cadillac, laughing gleefully.
Obviously, she is meant to be the boss and someone who enjoys her authority and prestige but there is no further development, no hint as to what she does or how she got there. The first ad is expertly crafted to tell a story about a man who has earned this shiny Cadillac through his courage and ingenuity (striking out on a new career track, later in life.) The second is just some person who has and enjoys great privilege and authority over others.
These ads illustrate perfectly the asymmetry in expectations for men and women. Obviously there are men who are members of the lucky sperm club and women who have been pioneers but this ad campaign wastes no time worrying about them. Their male customers want to believe they have earned a Cadillac, their female customers want to believe they deserve a Cadillac.