Posts Tagged ‘Cadillac’

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

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

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:

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Americans becoming more “European” in our automotive tastes…will wagons make a comeback?

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Americans’ taste in automobiles is becoming a little more European. The fact that Ford and GM are marketing truly global cars like the Fiesta, Focus and Chevrolet Cruze with only minor modifications to reflect local tastes supports this view. Diesel, while still a tiny portion of the US market, is increasing in share of market, propelled by the efforts of VW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.  GM has even announced that they will offer a diesel-powered Cruze in the US.

Even the hatchback, a configuration traditionally rejected by Americans is becoming more accepted:  “Five-door hatchbacks, popular among European families but long regarded as boring by Americans are catching on.  They now make up almost half the retail sales of Ford’s small Fiesta and Focus” (Financial Times).  Hot hatches like the Focus ST and Golf GTI make this segment even more appealing.

All this change is exciting and I hope that it signals a long-term adjustment in Americans’ view of automobiles.  Selfishly, I hope it will culminate in a re-appreciation of a body style seemingly lost to the sands of time…the full-size station wagon.

Europeans have a very different view of wagons, for one thing, they don’t call them “wagons,” they’re called “estates,” “Touring” or “Avants.” Just the language around the body style is better. It also helps that they have had some of the most beautiful well-designed wagons to choose from for years. For example, look at this Audi 5000 from the eighties, over 25 years old and it still looks great and feels very modern:

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For many Americans the idea of a station wagon became undesirable because of its connection to the newly suburban world of the post war years.  Most of our mothers drove a domestic version like the Ford LTD Country Squire, here’s a good example complete with faux wood, driveway and lawn: (more…)

Cadillac’s “Business Unusual” illustrates the wisdom of separating “Church and State”

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Cadillac and Time Warner have just started a new program called “Business Unusual. Daring stories from the road to success.” Comedian Chris Hardwick is the host and the basic concept is that he will interview entrepreneurs who have defied the odds by taking a risk and turning it into a successful business.  The outputs are videos featuring Hardwick and the entrepreneur(s) discussing their venture, what worked, what didn’t.  The objective is to draw parallels between what these entrepreneurs have done/do and Cadillac.

Fair enough, but let’s face it, the promise to the consumer is an interesting story about an entrepreneur and secondarily a bit of information about Cadillac.

The two available videos (at cnnmoney.com) illustrate the difficulty of finding the balance between providing the content that the consumer is promised versus the commercial message.

The first video is about a company called Wagic and I think does a pretty good job. The entrepreneurs, their business and products are interesting.  I felt as if I actually learned something about their business idea and how they succeeded.  There is only one moment where I felt the commercial interests intrude.  Toward the end, Hardwick asks shamelessly “how do you go from something like this (pointing to a Kiddalac riding toy) to something like this (pointing to a Cadillac CTS).”  That then leads one of the entrepreneurs to say, “they (Cadillac) started from scratch, that’s what we would do if we were going to make a revolutionary car.” I don’t mind the opening and closing visuals of the car that Hardwick is driving, but forcing the brand strategy into the conversation was a bit over the top and left me a little frustrated.

Unfortunately, the commercial nature is even more overt in the second episode(more…)

Cadillac opens 2011 with a new campaign: “Red blooded luxury.”

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

If you happened to be watching the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, you may have seen Cadillac’s new campaign, its first from new agency Fallon.  The new campaign is the first for Cadillac under the aegis of Joel Ewanick who gave the business to Fallon shortly after his arrival last year.  The campaign seeks to clearly position the brand by “taking hold of red blooded luxury” according to Don Butler, VP Marketing, Cadillac.  Mr. Butler went on to define red blooded luxury as “dramatic, passionate, glamorous, daring, a whole new approach to the luxury category.”

Here’s the introductory commercial:

Strategically, I think this work is smart.  I like the idea of setting up the other Tier 1 luxury marques as “blue-blooded” (cold, aloof, distant, rational) and juxtaposing Cadillac’s “red blooded luxury” (passionate, glamorous, dramatic, daring).   (more…)

Buick behaves unexpectedly.

Monday, December 13th, 2010

When General Motors was going through bankruptcy many industry observers were surprised that Buick would be one of the four brands that would be part of the new company (along with Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC). The explanation was that the Buick brand was very successful and respected in China. What was left in the “un-said” was that Buick was a basket case in the United States.

Since coming out of bankruptcy there has been lots of discussion and coverage regarding Chevrolet and Cadillac but relatively little about Buick.  Chevy represents 70% of the company’s business and certainly warrants attention.  No one was really surprised that shortly after arriving, Joel Ewanick hired Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to help re-build the Chevy brand.  Cadillac, the company’s luxury brand also seems to garner a lot of attention.  With bold designs, terrific new products, another new agency (Fallon), the folks at Cadillac believe that they are in a position to finally break into the Tier 1 portion of the luxury segment.  Marketing for Chevy and Cadillac has been stepped up and through November sales are up 18% for Chevrolet and 38% for Cadillac.  All good.  There’s also quite a bit of anticipation for the Superbowl as one or both of these brands will launch new campaigns in the big game.

While Chevrolet and Cadillac seem to grab the headlines, Buick has been quietly going about its business and making unexpected progress in the US market.  In fact, Buick is the fastest growing GM brand; it is also the fastest growing automotive brand in the United States with sales +54% year to date.

It would be easy to attribute Buick’s success entirely to product, after all the new Lacrosse and Regal are pretty darned impressive (see my earlier blog post) but that would be unfair to the marketers.  The folks responsible for marketing at Buick continue to find interesting ways to let us know our expectations of Buick are misplaced and that we should think of the brand differently.

This starts with the television advertising that clearly establishes an unexpected competitive set for Buick:

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Cadillac breaks new ground in auto industry marketing with an old idea.

Friday, August 6th, 2010

I was speaking with a colleague the other day and we were trying to think of an instance where an automobile manufacturer (or any brand for that matter) looked back into its own history and re-introduced a brand tagline that had been thrown in the bin.

We couldn’t think of any and we began to talk about what a mistake that was.  We were able to rattle off a number of instances, where great automotive brands walked away from positioning or taglines that perfectly encapsulated their brands.  Mercedes-Benz left behind “Engineered like no other car in the world.”  Volkswagen threw away “Drivers wanted.”  Chevrolet moved away from “Heartbeat of America.”  A few months ago, BMW, one of the most consistent marketers in the industry, looked as if they were moving away from “The Ultimate Driving Machine” in favor of  “Joy.”  In the case of BMW, this has been hotly denied and “TUDM” still appears at the end of the ads but it has certainly been demoted.

Why does this happen?  Why does it seem so difficult for marketers to realize that they have a real asset that needs to be protected and nourished?  A lot has to do with the constant pressure to increase volume and the find something new to “take the brand to the next level.”  The other factor is the constant churn of marketing management and agencies.  New marketing leadership needs to demonstrate that it is moving the business forward and that means doing something new.  Every agency is genetically coded to do something “new and unexpected” to burnish their reputation.  Bringing back an old idea can also be seen as a copout.

So it struck me this morning when I read an article in Advertising Age where Joel Ewanick was interviewed and he said that Fallon (Cadillac’s new agency) had developed the brand’s soon to be introduced tag-line: “The new standard of the world.”

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New ideas from Chevy and Cadillac. We’re still waiting for a brand idea.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Last year, fresh out of bankruptcy, General Motors ran the first ad with Ed Whitacre.  At the time, GM rationalised the Whitacre ad by saying:

“The spot will set up a wider TV campaign featuring commercials about each of GM’s four surviving brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.”  Automotive News, 9/10/09

The implication being that the brand advertising would clarify the brands’ identities. Almost three heads of marketing later, we still have yet to see an ad  or an idea that positions these brands clearly in the marketplace.  Three of the four GM brands have not put a stake in the ground telling us what they stand for (GMC is the exception and that work was done years ago).

Last week it leaked out that Chevy was going to have the tag-line “Excellence for all.” That idea has been roundly criticized as a strategy looking for an execution.  We used to describe an idea like this by saying its “strategy is showing.”  The point of course is that it lacks passion, emotion, bravado, something magical that makes you feel something about the brand, rather it’s as if research wrote the line. Chevrolet is truly one of America’s most storied and iconic brands, surely it deserves better.

Predictably the industry was quick to blame Publicis (Chevrolet’s new agency), I think that’s misplaced.

Ironically, exhibit number 1 in defense of Publicis is the new Cadillac campaign from Bartle Bogle & Hegarty.  Just announced yesterday, here are a couple of the commercials: (more…)

JD Power’s 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study–It’s tough to buy a bad car.

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

JD Power just released its 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study and there are some surprises.  Porsche is ranked 1st, Lincoln 2nd and Buick and Lexus are tied for 3rd. It wasn’t so many years ago that Lexus dominated the VDS study as the perennial number 1 and some may wonder what has happened?  Particularly in light of the well publicized Toyota quality issues.

The fact is that nothing has happened to Lexus, they design, engineer and build an extraordinary vehicle.  What’s happened is that the other manufacturers have improved to the point where every year it’s a genuine dogfight to get to the top spot.

There were some other surprises that weren’t so good….  (more…)

Can Cadillac succeed in Europe?

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

Amid all the drama surrounding GM, every so often I see something that strikes me a smart.  In Geneva, Cadillac announced it’s aspirations for Europe (WSJ 3/8/10 Sub required,  NYT 3/2/10).

After a number of high profile failures to enter the European market in a big way, the folks at Cadillac want to be a niche player and are willing to accept the lower volumes that go along with such a strategy.  By keeping volumes low, and presumably margins high, they expect that they can be profitable from year 1.

I think this strategy is sound and will succeed.  Cadillac’s current design language is unique and appealing.  There has always been a segment of the automotive market that is interested in something different and Europe is no different than the United States in this regard.  In Europe where Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and BMWs are common and cover a multitude of uses including taxis, rental cars, executive cars and the vehicles of choice for captains of industry, there is an opportunity for something “different.”

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A resurgence for Cadillac?

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Last year when I was considering what new luxury segment vehicle to purchase I had an experience that I think bodes well for Cadillac.

Keep in mind that my family has a long history with European imports.  In fact the last domestic product we bought was a 1986 Jeep Cherokee, just before the SUV craze really took hold.

Since that time we have had Volvos, a SAAB, a Mercedes Benz, half a dozen Audis and a couple of VWs.  For the last fifteen years my family has been happily ensconced in a series of Audis. As great as our experience has been with our Audis (we still have 2 in our household fleet) I thought it might be time for something new.

Growing up in my household, my sons could not help but pay attention to the automotive industry and both of them love cars.  So as I went through my deliberations concerning a new car, two conversations with my sons illustrated the change that is about to take place in the luxury segment.  The first with my then 22 year old, who when told I was thinking about a Mercedes-Benz, dismissively said “don’t buy a Mercedes-Benz, that’s an old man’s car.”

The second conversation, this one with my 25 year old, didn’t demean the possibility of a Mercedes-Benz, but concluded with “Dad, you should take a look at the Cadillac CTS, I think they’re cool.”

Now it was my turn to be surprised.  I admit that I have impressed by the design direction of Cadillac and I certainly recognize that the product is greatly improved but  “cool” from a twenty five year old’s point of view?

For 30+ years we have watched the Europeans and Japanese recreate the luxury segment as the domestics lost favor.  Very few baby boomers thought of Cadillac or Lincoln as marques they wanted in their garage.  Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus have been their first tier luxury brands of choice.   However, the preeminence of these brands is being challenged.

There are three reasons why the “Tier 1″ luxury brands are under fire:

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