Until now, Cadillac has proven the adage: “Nothing hurts a bad product more than good advertising.”

This morning Cadillac introduced a new campaign from its new agency (Adweek 12/1013). The good news is that for the first time in a decade and a half, the product is as good or maybe better than the advertising.  The new ATS and CTS are getting rave reviews from the industry pundits and there seems to be broad agreement that finally, the Cadillac product is up to the job of moving the brand into the rarified air of Tier 1 luxury where Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Audi compete.

The Cadillac brand has been through a lot of marketing fits, starts and shifts over the last decade and a half. Messaging has been inconsistent and no real brand values established. That said, there have been some terrific ad campaigns that have gotten the brand noticed, unfortunately the product wasn’t as good as the advertising.

In the 2002 Super Bowl, Cadillac introduced its “Breakthrough” campaign (from Leo Burnett) hitting the heart of the boomer generation with Led Zeppelin:

The Breakthrough campaign really helped Cadillac get noticed again after years of being ignored by boomers who were buying Mercedes-Benzs, BMWs, Lexi and Audis.

In the mid-2000s Cadillac changed agencies (to Modernista) and produced this commercial for its “Life. Liberty. and the Pursuit” campaign:

In 2008, Cadillac introduced Kate Walsh as a spokesperson and raised a few eyebrows:

In 2010 Cadillac moved it’s business to Fallon which took a shot at differentiating brand as “The new Standard of the world:”

Cadillac has certainly done it’s share of less than memorable ads over the years, but I would argue that each of these campaigns were trying to put a stake in the ground to establish some core values for the brand with advertising that was pretty darn good. The trouble has been that even if the advertising drove some new younger customers to the store to take a look at a Cadillac, they were met with a product that didn’t live up to the standards they had become accustomed to from the genuine Tier 1 competitors.   They walked away.

Now the product is reportedly up to those very high standards and Cadillac has a new advertising agency called Rouge (a meld of Lowe Cambell Ewald and Hill Holliday). As I mentioned at the start of this post, this morning Cadillac introduced a new brand advertising campaign:

The new campaign really attempts to establish Cadillac’s creds as ‘American luxury,’ an approach that I think makes a lot of sense for the brand.

For the first time, the product is at least as good as the advertising, now the only question is will the marketers stick with the strategy consistently and long enough for it to take hold and truly establish the brand’s core values?

Oh, and the new logo without the laurels is terrific.

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7 Responses to “Until now, Cadillac has proven the adage: “Nothing hurts a bad product more than good advertising.””

  1. Full Posting says:

    Full Posting

    Until now, Cadillac has proven the adage: “Nothing hurts a bad product more than good advertising.” « McNaughton Automotive Perspectives

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