Cadillac’s “Business Unusual” illustrates the wisdom of separating “Church and State”

Cadillac and Time Warner have just started a new program called “Business Unusual. Daring stories from the road to success.” Comedian Chris Hardwick is the host and the basic concept is that he will interview entrepreneurs who have defied the odds by taking a risk and turning it into a successful business.  The outputs are videos featuring Hardwick and the entrepreneur(s) discussing their venture, what worked, what didn’t.  The objective is to draw parallels between what these entrepreneurs have done/do and Cadillac.

Fair enough, but let’s face it, the promise to the consumer is an interesting story about an entrepreneur and secondarily a bit of information about Cadillac.

The two available videos (at cnnmoney.com) illustrate the difficulty of finding the balance between providing the content that the consumer is promised versus the commercial message.

The first video is about a company called Wagic and I think does a pretty good job. The entrepreneurs, their business and products are interesting.  I felt as if I actually learned something about their business idea and how they succeeded.  There is only one moment where I felt the commercial interests intrude.  Toward the end, Hardwick asks shamelessly “how do you go from something like this (pointing to a Kiddalac riding toy) to something like this (pointing to a Cadillac CTS).”  That then leads one of the entrepreneurs to say, “they (Cadillac) started from scratch, that’s what we would do if we were going to make a revolutionary car.” I don’t mind the opening and closing visuals of the car that Hardwick is driving, but forcing the brand strategy into the conversation was a bit over the top and left me a little frustrated.

Unfortunately, the commercial nature is even more overt in the second episode which is about a company called Crushpad.  Again an interesting company and business model that I enjoyed learning about.  The entrepreneur was not as comfortable on camera as the fellows from Wagic, but that’s OK.  Where things got bad was when they got in the Cadillac to ostensibly go on a tour of the Napa Valley. First we have to shamelessly consult the navigation system (so the viewer can see it) and then while driving Hardwick says, even more shamelessly, “because I don’t live in Napa, could I start a vineyard in this car?” to which our entrepreneur replies “it’s big enough, big sunroof as well.”

At that point I felt violated.  It wasn’t clever or funny. It was the product’s strategy showing in a place that I had been led to believe would be about “Daring stories from the road to success.”  Oh I get it, nudge, nudge, the road to success.

It demonstrates what a fine line it is between providing content that’s interesting and shameless efforts to insert the brand’s commercial message.  I certainly don’t mind Hardwick driving a Cadillac or using the technology available in it, if it makes sense. I wouldn’t even mind the video bookended by commercial messages.  But to thrust stupid dialogue in the middle of the video to make a product point, i.e.: “could I start a vineyard in this car?…it’s big enough, big sunroof as well” destroys the integrity of video from a consumer’s point of view.

This is not a new issue, for years magazine publishers have talked about the importance of “church and state.”  What they mean is that the commercial interests of the magazine are separate from the editorial, otherwise there is the possibility that advertisers might influence the editorial content, compromise the integrity of the edit staff and the relationship with their readers who are ostensibly looking for objective reporting.  Even when special advertiser supported sections that look like edit are included in a magazine they are identified as “Advertising Supplements” to make sure readers are not confused and the implicit “promise” of objective edit is not broken.

I recognize that there are all sorts of grey areas in this discussion and that serving the commercial interests of an enterprise while not breaking the trust of the consumer is particularly hard as marketers are increasingly content providers.  As if that’s not difficult enough, social media is blurring the distinctions even further.

I think a good rule of thumb is to err on the side of separating the commercial message from the content.  If you are concerned that a piece of content is becoming too commercial, then it probably is, and you should back off.

Consumers understand that marketers need to sell products and accept it, but if you are a content provider “poseur” then you are implicitly breaking a promise to your audience and that’s the kiss of death.

Tags: , , ,

16 Responses to “Cadillac’s “Business Unusual” illustrates the wisdom of separating “Church and State””

  1. Today, taking into consideration the fast way of living that everyone is having, credit cards get this amazing demand throughout the market. Persons out of every arena are using the credit card and people who not using the credit card have lined up to apply for even one. Thanks for giving your ideas in credit cards.

  2. Can’t hurt to explore things and see what happens. Transiting Saturn through the 5th House can possibly result in a love affair (5th House) that turns serious. Mind you, it can also mean restrictions on a love affair, but you really have to look at both charts to see what’s going on. But there’s only one way to find out, right?

  3. Mani se privatnih fakulteta. To nisu obrazovne institucije nego firme za hiperprodukciju titula na vizit-karticama. I to mnogo profitabilne firme! Znam mnogo primera kako se polažu ispiti na BK, Fabusu, Megatrendu i kojekakvim FAMovima. Vrhunac omalovažavanja svih vrednih studenata je mogućnost online studiranja, kada vam profesor poÅ¡alje test e-mailom a vi imate rok od 1h da mu vratite sve uraÄ‘eno. Ne kažem da nema čestitih i vrednih studenata na privatnim fakultetima, ali nema ih mnogo.VA:F [1.9.20_1166]please wait…VA:F [1.9.20_1166](from 0 votes)

  4. Thanks, Ashley. I often have the foresight for contributive longevity for my daughter as she goes through life. You’re right on the money — health is a priority when you have someone who depends on you!Best,Johnny

  5. Great for Eun Jung,her mum’s cafe but very good news for Woojung fans around the World.Imagine the wide extent of interests in Woojung fan base and T-ara fan club Queens!

  6. Huu, ez igen! Nagyon tetszenek. És hát értem én, nem akartál üveget :-)Méretre mekkorák? Mert így a képről kicsit nehéz eldönteni.Márk

  7. ¡Querida que sustaco! pero lo peor es que ¡también me ha tocado! y el corazón se te frena…yo por eso opté por nada de muñecos y una mantita ligerita… Un besote desmadroso

  8. above, retard is the easiest way and best way to describe you. Maybe that’s how you got the enormous shoulders? Did you every hear of retard strength? Keep it coming douche bag… The man pipe you must get each weekend must keep a smile on your face. What made you drop cat tranquiller in your new girls drink? She looks so happy to be there… maybe you told her she was going to be featured on your blog the next day.

  9. There’s a secret about your post. ICTYBTIHTKY

  10. It’s a real pleasure to find someone who can think like that

  11. Maik says:

    A friulae doesn’t mean that the goal wasn’t the right one. A friulae doesn’t mean YOU aren’t the right or best person to reach that goal, that dream It means that it will need more adjustment, a little more work, a little more time Maybe a lot more. That is courage. Only fools miss this, you are right, Mark. But only fools quit, too, simply because it didn’t just grow roses and rainbows the first time out. Or the second. Or the tenth. It takes courage to understand this (the dream or goal) is worth each and every step or scar that it takes to have it.Thank you for being here, Mark.Did you bring monkeys?Hmm

  12. Jeff says:

    I see a lot of interesting content on your blog. You have to spend a lot of time writing,
    i know how to save you a lot of work, there is a tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in couple of minutes,
    just search in google – k2 unlimited content

  13. I am truly thankful to the holder of this web site who has shared this impressive paragraph at here.

  14. I love this interesting page. I presume this is the site of a sports fan. I love sports since college, particular rugby but I am truly in love with darts. Do you play darts? If so please visit my great site

  15. aluminium says:

    I was suggested this blog through my cousin. I am not positive whether this publish is written through him as no one else recognise such exact approximately my difficulty. You are incredible! Thanks!

Leave a Reply