A punk rocker; also a Cadillac buyer.

In 2002, when Cadillac lifted Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" for use in its "Break Through" ad campaign, there was a brief uproar over the co-opting of classic rock to sell cars. Or whatever. It was really the last time there was any argument over music licensing in ads - the climate in the music industry has shifted so signficantly in the last four years that licensing, whether for ads or the equally lucrative spot in Grey's Anatomy, Weeds, Veronica Mars, The OC, or Gilmore Girls, has become a better business model than trying to get a single through to radio or (ha ha ha!) video.

But Cadillac's "break through" campaign was also pretty staid, and catered exclusively to baby boomers. The company's scrapping of the Zep-themed ads and adoption of a recently-launched series of spots that position the brand as an option for younger, but still affluent buyers who might still need some prodding to pick a DTS or XLR Roadster over an Infiniti or BMW show a full-scale shift in where Caddy’s coming from.

You’re still young and cool, they’re saying. (Or want you to say.) But you’re classy, too.

That’s why the ad that dominated this past weekend’s NFL broadcasts is so flawless. A mild fantasy element allows for a shape-shifting automobile on some arid desert asphalt strip, the model flitting from the earliest Cadillac to the latest envelope-pushing roadster, the POV shifting from bird’s eye to profile and back, suggesting the search tools we use every day on computers as we click through options and utilize pan-and-scan to pick out the perfect pair of Levi’s.

The soundtrack? “Punkrocker” from Swedish group Teddybears, with a guest vocal from Iggy Pop. “I’m a punk rocker yes I am,” Iggy asserts as the ad fades to logo. You’re a punk rocker, yes you are, it suggests. And driving a Caddy somehow makes you even more punk rock.

Whether or not that's true depends on whether you're thinking about dropping a bunch of cash into a new car. For our purposes, the ad is interesting simply for its evolutionary approach to licensing, demographic targeting, and of course Iggy Pop.


Watch the ad:

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