Rule Number One of advertising is, "kick 'em when they're down." Or was that Sun Tzu...or Bone Thugs-N-Harmony? Either way, while Cadillac catches flak for its controversial ELR ad, the above Ford ad with a C-Max Energi is either a shameless ripoff or a smashing riposte. (This, of course, depends on your affinity for European-derived plug-in crossovers.) Instead of a white guy, it's a black lady. Instead of a $28.8-million house overlooking the Sunset Strip, it's a greenhouse in Detroit. Instead of Neal McDonough, it's Pashon Murray, founder of Detroit Dirt, which promotes urban farming by collecting compost for abandoned areas of Detroit.

Hey, both ads are a paean to the idea of working hard, no matter what your goals are—if you want to give back to the community, good for you. If you want to shove it to the Frenchies, good for you, too. But there's one point worth mentioning: The Frenchy-shover drives a car that costs twice as much as the C-Max Energi. Is this rich-guy backlash, as USA Today puts it? Draw your own conclusions.

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