Cadillac breaks a lofty, new ad blitz during the Academy Award broadcast Feb. 29 that it dubs an evolution of its year-old “Dare Greatly” campaign.
This time around, the ads are themed “Don’t You Dare” and showcase 8 innovators. Cadillac Global CMO Uwe Ellinghaus said the blitz “is the physical embodiment of ‘Dare Greatly,’ encouraging consumers to take action and never accept the status quo.”
The “Brand” spot and similar “Stories” commercial, each a minute long, mostly show the young people, with brief descriptions of their impressive accomplishments. The aim is to show viewers these people would not have succeeded had they not dared question conventional wisdom. “I want people to go online to find out who these people are,” Ellinghaus says.
But Oscar night TV viewers may wonder what those two commercials are advertising, since a Cadillac vehicle only appears for a few seconds at the end of each spot. I’m not sure those ads are compelling enough to keep viewers’ attention until the punchline.
The people spotlighted in the ads range in age from 15 to 25 – certainly not in the mainstream age group of Cadillac buyers today. The average age of buyers in 2015 was 57, says a Caddy spokesman. That dropped from the upper 6os in 2006 and the low 70s from 2001, according to Edmunds.com. That’s notable progress, folks.
Cadillac is trying to build its brand image now to appeal to these younger buyers down the road. Also, as per marketing logic, you can target older buyers by showing younger folks in ads, but not vice versa. There are also car marketing experts who don’t like to see people in ads because they believe it can limit broad appeal across age groups and sexes.
Janusz Kaminski shot the work, his first automotive ads. The Polish-born filmer has been nominated 5 times for Best Cinematography Academy Awards, winning twice for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” He also handled last year’s “Bridge Of Spies.”
For the Oscar broadcast, Cadillac has 5.5 minutes of ad time, including 4 minutes during the show and 1.5 minutes in the pre-show. There’s a total of 6 different commercials, although the advertiser only showed 4 of them to reporters ahead of time. All the ads direct viewers to the DAREGREATLY.com web site, established a year ago.
Publicis in New York, is Cadillac’s ad agency and these ads will also air in China, the first time the same ads have run in Cadillac’s two biggest markets.
The two other :60 spots I previewed were product specific: one for the new XT5 suv ; the other for the CT6 sedan, my personal favorite of the bunch.
This is truly a break-through (pardon the pun*) commercial that grabs your attention with its visual beauty and sleek shots of the CT6. The reverse-motion photography matches the narration “Only those who dare drive the world forward.”
Since his arrival at Cadillac in January 2014 from luxury pen maker Montblanc, the German-born Ellinghaus has preached that car ads merely showing beautiful vehicles aren’t enough these days. He said he’s working to make General Motors’ luxury brand relevant to customers and to stand for something that draws passionate, sophisticated and optimistic buyers.
Ellinghaus, who also had a stint at Germany’s BMW Group in marketing from 1998 to 2012, admits Cadillac faces challenges from his former auto employer, along with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and the Japanese luxury nameplates. But he points to progress Cadillac made in 2015 , not just with rising global sales, but higher transaction prices, lower inventories and less incentive costs. Brand opinion metrics also rose last year for Cadillac , he says.
I doubt this campaign will set the world on fire for Cadillac. This has to be a long term effort, which hasn’t always been the case in the automotive world, including Cadillac. But at least, for now, Cadillac has put a stake in the ground and is sticking to its guns from a year ago.
*”Break Through” was Cadillac’s ad theme from January 2002 until fall 2006 that used the song “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin.
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