A February 19, 2014 entry in a blog called Innerspace takes a look at an ad Cadillac has been running recently for its new ELR. While touting the can do spirit of America, the narrator made a reference to the moon landings.
“When the White House announced its cancellation of Project Constellation at the Kennedy Space Center in April 2010, the reason cited was not for the very valid set of arguments that the program was outdated, behind, badly over budget and impossible to afford, but instead because ‘we’ve been there before.’
“General Motors appears to agree, or does it? Americans are so hardworking the ad asserts, we left the Moon because we were bored. Not to worry though, we left the keys in the (rover) because ‘we’re the only ones going back up there.’”
Innerspace’s assessment of the “valid” reasons for canceling Constellation is debatable. When faced with what it saw as a similar situation concerning the Space Station Freedom project, the Clinton administration declined to cancel it entirely, but rather restructured it and called it the International Space Station, which currently orbits the Earth as a venue of research and development and as a magnet for commercial spacecraft. The Obama administration had the same option concerning Constellation, indeed the Augustine Committee suggested a way to do so. It declined because it is clearly uninterested in space exploration.
Getting back to the rover on the moon, with the keys in it waiting for the next astronaut to show up, there is a certain way of looking at the moon landing reference in the ad. To be sure Apollo has been an iconic metaphor for innovation and the spirit of achievement ever since Neil Armstrong first set foot on the lunar surface and had been used countless times in commercials. But the reference to going back is a new one, something that bears examination.
Good ad men know that their copy, in order to resonate, has to touch something in the psyche of the customers being pitched to. The later day Don Draper who wrote the Cadillac ad must have seen something, either in a survey or in his own gut, when he made the reference to going back to the moon. In the ad, it is not a case of “been there, done that.” Rather it is a case of, “time to do it again.” The yearning to do great things again is clearly there, otherwise why refer to it?