Like men who read this blog, I have been taking in parts of March Madness. My two teams Minnesota and Michigan State did not advance very far. There have been some great games. Many of the ads directed toward men have not stood out in my opinion. But there is a Cadillac ad that is both surprising and disturbing to me. It states, “You can build a car or a Cadillac.’ To enhance this claim, the statement is made, “Why for the love of God build a sedan that goes 200 miles per hour.” If you saw this ad, I hope you were shocked by the words as well. If not, I write to bring your attention to what I think is happening – traditional Christian beliefs are now a safe target for advertisers, because the religious climate has changed in America.
Men, don’t fall asleep as Madison Avenue attempts to manipulate your sensitivities about behavior and beliefs. Remember advertising exist to persuade. An article in the New York times observed, “In a perilous political climate…..some advertising agencies have decided to use their marketing acumen in service of advancing cultural and political causes, rather than selling products.” To me, the Cadillac ad was crossing a line by using religious language to appeal to men. As one ad executive noted, “Through communication, you can change the way people think, the way people feel.”
I would go so far as to say the ad was blasphemy, since it shows a lack of reverence for the love of God. It becomes profane statement when religious language is used in a commercial advertisement on national TV. To mention “the love of God” while trying to sell a Cadillac, is a sacrilege, because it associates “the love of God” with buying a car. This phrase has no place in advertising a car, except to possible shock some viewers. Part of the value of the words is to get your attention by shocking your religious sensitivities.
I have been studying the prophets in an attempt to help me discern what God has to say to our culture. The prophets warn that we can not hide our true intentions from God. What are the real intentions of the ad? “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?” (Isaiah 29:15). The religious language in the ad shows how badly the public discourse has eroded in our nation. Several years ago it would be unthinkable for advertising to talk about “the love of God” in a secular ad. But now it is acceptable. Isaiah warns us, “You were so confident and comfortable in your evil life, saying, ‘No one sees me.’ You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out. What delusion! Smugly telling yourself, ‘I’m Number One. There’s nobody but me'” (Isaiah 47:10 – Message).
Could it be that this ad is a kind of “spitting” in God’s face. “And it’s not as if they don’t know better. They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face. And they don’t care – worse, they hand out prize to those who do the worst things best! (Roman 1:32 – Message). Doing such a thing, with willful intent is a sacrilege.
Men, we need to be vigilant as the religious language worsen in our nation. Remember the third commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7). “God’s name and His character are inseparable. Using His holy name lightly in a vain, empty manner is insulting and degrading” (Nelson Bible Dictionary).