Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.
Attack ads aimed squarely at a company's competitor can be a risky strategy.
But when that competitor invites mockery by making advertising that is widely reviled, it is almost a shame not to take advantage of it.
Last month, GM's Cadillac division released an ad featuring a man strolling by his pool and through his impossibly large house, talking about the value of the American work ethic. The ad was pilloried for the way it glorified 1-per-cent-style privilege and its clumsy patriotism, not to mention inaccurate statements about the U.S. being the only country with a space program.
At least one other auto maker recognized the problem with having a middle-aged white male stroll around talking about making your own luck. This week, Ford responded with its own ad mimicking Cadillac's "Poolside" ad shot for shot, but with a very different context.
It features Pashon Murray, the founder of Detroit Dirt, a compost company that focuses on urban farming projects in the Motor City.
The Cadillac ad ends: "You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible. As for all the stuff, that's the upside of only taking two weeks off in August. N'est-ce pas?"
The Ford ad caps off with this: "You work hard, you believe that anything is possible, and you try to make the world better. You try. As for helping the city grow good, green, healthy vegetables, that's the upside of giving a damn. N'est-ce pas?"