Carmelo Anthony is the Cadillac of Basketball Players

There are (at least) four things that are inevitable in life:

  • Death.
  • Taxes.
  • Swade will rag on GM when they give him a reason.
  • GM will always give Swade a reason.

I’m getting over it slowly, but it’s a Saab thing.


Carmelo Anthony is one of those basketball players who has immense talent but nearly zero chance of ever winning a championship. He comes across as a guy who feels entitled, self-centred; the type of player who’ll sulk if he’s not the leader but lacks the personality traits to actually lead.

LebronRingCarmelo’s reputation was built on his college career, winning the NCAA title with Syracuse in his freshman college year, in 2003. He went straight to the NBA after that and hasn’t won a title more prominent that a divisional flag in his whole pro career. The guy’s obviously got talent, but hasn’t got the leadership qualities or the team around him to succeed.

Despite this, he’s the highest paid player in the highest profile team based in the most glamorous city in the United States. By some measures, he can lay claim to being the man. But those measures won’t be ones devised by people that matter.

And so follows my likening of Carmelo to Cadillac.

Cadillac, like Carmelo, has some talent. I drove a CTS in Canada back in 2008 and it was obviously a well executed car. Reputations take a long time to build in the car business, though, and Cadillac’s done little to deserve a contemporary moniker akin to it’s old ‘Standard Of The World’. In fact, Cadillac still tries to ride that reputation even though the company’s product started to wane in the 1960’s.

To build a reputation based on your current product doesn’t take one big hit, it takes a generation of hits. Cadillac’s philosophy seems to be “fake it til you make it”. Claim greatness where little-to-no greatness actually exists. If you say it enough, then enough people will believe it so you can sell some cars.

Witness the ad for the Cadillac ELR. I find it hard to believe that they found enough focus group participants who thought this was aspirational to approve it. My guess is that the people in the focus group worked for Cadillac itself.

Have you ever seen a greater display of hubris in all your life? Have you ever wanted to be someone less than you want to be that guy?

And here’s the rub…..

The Chevrolet Volt, on which the Cadillac ELR is based, is reputed to be a very good vehicle. I’m sure that extra luxuries added to the ELR make it an excellent vehicle. But so much of that can be undone by some guy acting like a tool in a video commercial.

Here’s a tip: make something so great that others talk about how good it is.

BMW didn’t have to do an ad like this through the 90’s or the 00’s because every car magazine in the world talked up the quality and driving dynamics of the 3-series.

Can you imagine Cadillac doing something that good?

This Cadillac ad only came to my attention because of a bunch of articles last week about Ford’s parody of it. I don’t like the Ford ad much, either, because it’s so obviously trying to be contrarian that it comes across as a little bit fake, too. That’s a pity, because from what I read, that lady’s efforts deserve better than scripted opportunism.


Bottom line: this is what GM do. They claim a reputation bigger than they deserve and just like Carmelo Anthony, I hold no hope for them ever winning a championship.

At least Carmelo will get a chance to do it the Gary Payton way, being a sixth/seventh/eighth man on a championship team when he should rightfully be in retirement.

GM and Cadillac? They’ll have to produce a generation of genuine world-beating product all on their own. Claiming it before then with BS ads like the ELR spot is only going to dig their hole a little bit deeper.

You may also like


  1. It’s interesting that the “Ford vs. GM” debate still strikes a note for US advertisers. They are framing car purchasing decisions in a way that hasn’t been relevant for over thirty years.

    It must sound like gibberish to younger buyers. They have never lived in a world where Cadillacs were aspirational, or where the big three were anything but fall-through options (if you can’t afford something better).

  2. I had missed both those ads, this is really weird stuff. All you have to do is read Bob Lutz’s book to know why this company is in such hurt.

    Where did they come up with that ad idea? Really sick. Who wants to be like that JERK. Aspirational??

    Did they think they did not need to recall those cars because they were “Government Motors”?

    Keep up the good work SWADE.

    My 2001 Aero 95 has 190,000 wonderful miles on it and going strong. My girlfriend/wife of 45 years 2003 Aero has 150,000 miles and both my sons have 95 Aero wagons that have going to run for a long time. And GM killed those cars and that brand for their junk.

    Again……keep up the good work SWADE…..we are on the same wavelength!!

  3. Thank you, thank you. I would not have seen either ad if I didn’t read Swade.

    Here’s the deal. The person the ad targeted – for that target – that is a damn good ad. It may be impossible to see if you are not in the USA. If you’re not, I totally get how that guy comes across like a prick.

    I live in North Carolina, the American south. I’m much more like the human the Ford ad targeted (I liked it a lot too). Manure goes in our garden. My wife composts everything. If I lay too still on the couch, I’ll get composted. Nespa?

    But there are lots of folks like the person the Cadillac ad targets around me. Lots of them. Many, if they are not that guy, wish they were. They get he’s a prick. They actually like that about that guy.

    The two weeks of vacation thing? That is dog whistle code for making fun of the French. The ad’s target, that American – they love making fun of the French.

    Those are two great ads. I salute the creative departments that made ’em both.

  4. It would be quite interesting to share a journey with him just to see how long he could keep it up.

    The whole Mad Men schtick is hilarious.

    “In the 21st century it’s OK for a Real Man ™ to drive a Cadillac that doesn’t run on gas, son, and here’s why, BLAH BLAH BLAH…”

    I can’t decide if it is a deliberate satire and Ford have been suckered by it.

    No, it’s real isn’t it. Terrifying.

    Speaking of how awfully superior the Mercans are to the rest of us…

    Swade, have you read about the GM / Delphi ignition components debacle?

    Are Saabs affected by this? Apologies if you have already posted on this topic.

    1. Since the fault only occurs when someone has a heavy set of keys hanging on the ignition switch, Saabs are by definition immune. The ignition switch allows those keys to lie flat.

      (The switch was primarily used in low-end cars in the first place.)

      1. Thanks for the info guys.

        Yet another justification for Saab’s central ignition switch.

  5. that is a stomach-churning ad, I find it hard to believe, despite Keith’s assertions above, that anyone could relate to it in a positive way.

    The disturbing wink at the end just seals it. That guy is going to blow his head off soon when his share portfolio takes a dive and the stress of being the bread winning hero becomes too much.

    As an aside, I rather like [supremely successful graphic designer] Stephan Sagmeister’s principle of taking an additional full year off every 5 years, giving him time to let ideas and creativity thrive. He says something along the lines of, “that one year of thinking leads to the next 5 years of good work”.

    We’re not all so fortunate, but you do have to stop and look around once in a while…

  6. I have said exactly what you say about Carmelo, and I think that you you’ve seen that in the past from me. I also have recently allowed for the ‘washed-up role player playing for the league minimum’ route to a ring because it seems to bother him enough to resort to that in his career twilight.

    As for the ad, it’s sufficiently tongue-in-cheek for me. I’ve never seen it on television myself, and I watch plenty of Cadillac-sponsored programming: football, basketball, ESPN, CNN, etc. I have to believe this spot was created for a very specific niche marketing run.

  7. The guy in the GM advert should listen to Billy Joel’s Movin’ Out. “and he’s trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac … If that’s movin’ up Im movin’ out’. 😉