Cadillac Sucks Less

I shared a summer house in the Hamptons with a guy named Matt who worked at a hedge fund. Matt was nice, handsome, and drove a brand-new Cadillac CTS, which, I believe, served as an effective prophylactic for Matt the entire summer.

Driving up in a Cadillac is, in my view, like paying with a Discover card — increases chances you’re not getting laid that night. I think the Cadillac brand sucks: weak advertising and bland products. However, this week Cadillac introduced the most innovative offering since the launch of Tesla’s model S. And here’s the thing: it’s not a product, but the way you access the product.

For $1,500/month you can roll in any Caddy (insurance and maintenance included), switch to any model as often as you like, and then stop whenever you want. The price premium works out to approximately $500/month, and it’s worth it. The stress of buying a car isn’t the sales guy in the khakis or the opaque pricing, but the insecurity of making the wrong decision and being stuck in the wrong relationship for 3-5 years. Your car says a lot about you. If you drive a Prius you’re saying, “I like trees and believe my friends are too stupid to focus on the shit-ton of carbon the ship that brought this thing from Japan spewed into the air.” So, in case it says the wrong thing, I’d rather sing “I’m lame” for 1 month vs. 36. The freedom and reduction in pain points of Cadillac’s BOOK program is genius and makes Cadillac suck a whole lot less.

Giving the consumer the opportunity to date vs. serial monogamy is a huge benefit that commands a premium. The most overvalued company in America, WeWork, has tapped into this. Small, and some bigger, businesses don’t want to commit to one space for 10 years, as NYC landlords ask, and want easy entry/exit. At the JP Morgan Alternative Investments Conference last year I interviewed one of the founders of WeWork. He’s dreamy. Argentinian, I think, a lot of hair, and wore loafers with no socks. It’s a great company, and its valuation makes absolutely no sense.

However, beyond overvalued firms run by dreamy Argentinians (he’s actually Israeli), there is a takeaway. Most managers I interact with tend to bifurcate their mental capital allocation to brand and product. And there is general consensus that the mix of branding spend should move more digital, and in general they should be spending more on innovation. However, just as rookie managers immediately equate branding with advertising, many managers equate innovation with product and R&D. Innovation’s promise for outsized returns is not just the product, but how it’s discovered, financed, sold, supported, and used post-purchase.

And…

I’m a resident of Florida. (Note: I didn’t like writing that, why?) Anyway, the sunshine state is the latest state to approve medical marijuana. I smoked a lot of pot in college and then stopped for 20 years. Why? Several factors methinks: it’s been illegal. This made it harder to get, and made you a bit of a loser, as responsible people generally don’t break the law. Also the merchandising and accessories reinforced the notion you’re a loser. Ever spilled bong water and thought, “I feel really good about myself”? Likely no. In addition, the technology has made it much easier to smoke and calibrate.

When my mom’s breast cancer metastasized in her stomach, one of the few things that gave her relief from the relentless nausea was pot. She never smoked before she became ill. As Nevada, Congress, and the pharmaceutical industry had conspired, I found myself going downtown and trolling seedy bars and clubs trying to score pot, which I found humiliating and really awkward. I (sort of) get why people don’t think recreational marijuana is a good idea. However, anybody against medical marijuana either lacks empathy, is taking money from companies that sell more powerful drugs, or is just an idiot.

The Night Manager is my new show. I’m 3 episodes in, and it’s clear Hugh Laurie is a giant. When he’s on screen, everyone else disappears. Tom Hiddleston is the lead and rumored to be the next Bond. He’s a lightweight who’ll be forgotten — I’m still hoping for Idris Elba. What’s strange/bothersome about the show is that, true to form of sixties British spy novels, all the women are hot messes either soon to be killed or fucked. The producers decided to bring John Le Carré’s work into the seventies and made the MI6 character a woman (a dude in the novel), aptly played by Olivia Colman. However, the series could be renamed Misogyny and Tea.

Hugh Laurie fashioned one of the great tv characters with House, a decent binge watch. The storyline I enjoyed most was season 3 with David Morse playing a cop pissed off with House. Mr. Morse is an underappreciated actor who starred in one of the more moving films of the eighties, Inside Moves.

Life is so rich,
Scott

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