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Cadillac Takes on 'Divided Nation' in Oscars Ad

Add Cadillac to the list of marketers using an ad in an attempt to bridge political divides. In a TV spot that will run during Sunday’s Academy Awards, the luxury auto brand seeks to dispel the notion that America is a nation divided — a tall task given the continuous acrimony on cable news shows and public demonstrations against the Donald Trump administration.

The ad, called “Carry,” begins by showing street protests before transitioning into scenes of humans helping other humans, like soldiers assisting a wounded compatriot and a man being airlifted from a flooded neighborhood. The General Motors brand then makes an attempt to remind viewers of its historical presence with old scenes of celebrities and their Caddys, including Muhammad Ali and Marilyn Monroe. Publicis, New York handled the ad.

The ad is “neither a political or social statement,” said Melody Lee, Cadillac’s director of brand marketing. “It is simply a celebration of the incredible American spirit, and of a country that when united, inspires, enables and achieves. As a brand that has served as the embodiment of this, the American Dream, Cadillac hopes to remind the country how great we can be if we carry each other forward.”

Cadillac in recent years has tried to make a big splash on Oscars night and this year is no different, even though the brand’s new product load for the 2017 model year is light. Three other spots will run during the broadcast that are by Rokkan, part of the Leo Burnett Worldwide network. One ad, called “Pedestal,” features the Escala concept car. Another ad called “Pioneers” spotlights technology used in Cadillac vehicles. A fourth ad is dedicated to the CTS-V. (See all the spots at bottom of this story.)

But the “Carry” spot will likely get the most attention, considering the possibility that some viewers will see it through a political lens.

Cadillac had apparently been considering ads with unifying themes for a while. The new spot comes nearly three months after Cadillac began a casting call for an ad that would represent “all walks of life of America.” Details of the casting call leaked when controversy erupted over a portion of the call seeking “any and all real alt-right thinkers/believers.” Cadillac disavowed the language, saying it did not authorize it. A casting service called Cast Station took responsibility, posting an apology on its Facebook page that stated it was “issued by mistake” and the employee behind it was terminated.

Asked it the casting call was for the Oscars ad, Ms. Lee in an email statement issued through a spokesman stated that “the creative direction for ‘Carry,’ which the brand released today, was the result of a careful creative development process that never involved the casting of actors.”

In a January interview at the Detroit auto show, Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus confirmed that the brand was working on ads with a unifying theme.

“This country was founded on immigration, on diversity,” he said. “Cadillac for many, many, many years was the embodiment of the American Dream.” He added that the “American Dream is still alive and … people still come here because they hope for a better future.” These themes are appropriate for Cadillac because it is a brand “you got when you made it for a long, long, long time in this country.”

Here are the other three Oscars ads:

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