Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Drifter’s Escalade: Bob Dylan's Despicable Cadillac Commercial

Early one mornin’ the sun was shining,
I was layin’ in bed
Wonderin’ if there was any way at all
I could make some more bread…

USA Today reported yesterday that Bob Dylan has filmed an ad for the Cadillac Escalade, to begin airing in November. And the theme of this week’s episode of his wonderful Theme Time Radio Hour on XM will be… Cadillac. This piece of integrated cross-promotional brand synergy comes in two forms: a 30-second TV spot and the admittedly charming, Theme Time-centric two-minute "vignette" below.

Rock legends, like the rest of us, deserve to live handsomely, even if that means mining their back (or front) catalog to make a quick buck. Despite what the aging hippies & beatniks will tell you, Dylan’s music doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to him. If he wants to sell “I Shall Be Released” to, pardon the expression, plug Metamucil, that’s his prerogative. But to endorse one of the most gas-guzzling, obnoxious, ostentatious, overpriced, dangerous and generally reprehensible SUVs on the road is disturbing indeed.

The Escalade is the unofficial ride of two of society’s most loathsome demographic segments: gangsta rappers and nouveau riche suburbanites. Most of Dylan’s fans drive Subaru Outbacks and Toyota Highlanders, pickups, Priuses or perhaps one of Ford’s resurgent Mustangs. The rest of them take the subway or hitchhike. Anyone in the market for an Escalade probably doesn’t know, and certainly doesn't care, who Dylan is. And even the most hardcore, bootleg-mongering Dylanite is unlikely to be persuaded by the Riverboat Gambler’s presence to lay down sixty grand on something that deeply offends their core values.

Dylan has never shied from commerce, but his choices were usually quirky. A few years back, he did a TV spot for Victoria’s Secret set to his stalker dirge “Love Sick.” Let’s see... half a million bucks or so to fly to Venice, hang out with some of the world’s most beautiful women wearing lingerie and wings… he probably canceled a tour to make that happen. Last year, he did a fun, straight-ahead performance of "Someday Baby" that was equal parts iPod/iTunes ad and Modern Times promo.

Rock Turtleneck isn’t ready to throw their massive Dylan archive into the bonfire yet. But an Escalade? Why? Let's hope that, as his friend Frank Sinatra was wont to do, Dylan is quietly giving these earnings to an orphanage, halfway house or down-on-his-luck riverboat gambler.


Anonymous said...

Find this discussion of Bob's actions all a bit puerile, in many ways ...... YES, people shouldn't drive big fat cars ..... YES Bob shouldn't drive or endorse them. NO ... it doesn't mean WE have to take any notice!!!

And then ...... has it occurred to anyone there might be a SMALL touch of irony (Bob's standard strategy) in talking about going on a drive to NOWHERE ......???

After all, in Talking WW3 Blues, after the bomb goes off, Bob goes to a Cadillac window up town, gets in the car and drives down 42nd Street ...... then he says:

Good car to drive .... AFTER A WAR!!!!!

Just a thought.

Anthony DeVito said...

Anonymous' comment, as usual, makes no sense. Teensy delicate touches of irony really don't make much of an impact when you're shilling a car that gets, what, 3 gallons to a mile? And yeah, we actually DO have to take notice. Cadillac's media spend pretty much guarantees that.

This isn't a conceptual art project. It's an ad for the automotive equivalent of the flesh-eating virus.

On another note, when did Dylan morph into Vincent Price?

TCB Walsh said...

You shouldn't be able to use words like "puerile" and still be allowed to be anonymous!

Anonymous said...

A Cadillac Escalade gets about 11 to 15 mpg. Someone even told me that the Escalade is mechanically pretty much a glamorized Trailblazer or Envoy. I don't like that Cadillac logo on the grill of an SUV. It looks creepy for some reason and I agree that the car is ostentatious looking but isn't Dylan a little on the flashy side himself these days? Maybe he should have been driving the Cadillac sports car. Or a Buick LaCrosse ??

magdalena studios said...

I read that Cate Blanchette said he drives a yellow Humvee in "real life" in California.
It says "world's greatest grandpa" on it.

I admit I was definitely disturbed by that.

not the grandpa, that's cute... but the Humvee is obscene.

Yes, the spot is charming but I have to disagree about people who drive and Escalade wouldn't know or care who Dylan is. I mean he sung at one of the Clinton Inaugurations, sang for the Pope and Mr. Frank. You have everyone referencing him from Imus to Scarborough, to thousands of news stories quoting him on some silly thing or another..."As Bob Dylan said... the times really are a changing..." Peole you would never think of name him as an influence, there is even a website that claims he is right wing... and who knows, maybe he is!
(that would send a dagger into my heart!)

Way, way back when commercialism, "going commercial" and "selling out" were ubiquitous insults about anyone who started making it big... the worst thing you could say about anyone if R&R...(I never quite understood that, wasn't making it big part of the whole thing?), anyway, way back then there were stories, or quotes about how much he was into making money... a cardinal sin at the time.

We like our idols pure.
Dylan is as much of a brand, a piece of performance art... a "personality" as a person to us I mean, not to himself obviously...
All that being said he is still my top guy.

Anonymous 1... why are you shouting?

Irony? Well, I suppose you could find anything you want in the subtext.
This is a commercial, a simple commercial for a miserable car.
That's all it is.
I get that you can "find" stuff in it if you look, Dylan has made reference to all kinds of stuff, what hasn't he referenced?

I read somewhere that the strip "blowing in the wind" on the telephone pole is a yellow ribbon. Could be.

Anyway, its a commercial, I have no idea why he made the damn thing, but the truth is what we think of Dylan says who we are not who he is... we really don't have a clue. In a way he is like a mirror, he projects the "dylan" brand and we think we are seeing the real thing, but we are seeing our own reflection.
(That isn't a bad thing if we use what we see to find our own passions... too long to explain, I'm already babbling)
Anyway, Who the hell knows with him. I'd like to slap him upside the head for this though! ;-)

I'm not condemning him, it kind of annoys me, disturbs me.

Admittedly I am far too interested in Dylan if any of this even matters.
Obseesed some might call it...
I do call him my imaginary boyfriend, but I'm not gonna break up with him over it! LOL

Anonymous said...

We've come a long way since:

I got into the driver's seat
Drove down 42nd Street
In my Cadillac.
Great car to drive after a war.

The tunes they are a changing.


Thedmo said...

Something is happening
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

Anyone who'd buy an Escalade to "be like Bob" would buy one anyway. No harm, no foul.

Out is the only way to sell. Everybody's got to put food on their family.

And the Cadillac episode of TTRH was one of the best. Keep 'em coming, Bob.