Tag Archives: Cadillac

Cadillac’s “Don’t You Dare” Ad Blitz Breaks On Oscars

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.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook, Linked In and on Twitter at jhal2001



2012 Car Ad Review

As the curtain opens this week on 2013, it’s time for AutoAdOpolis’ annual year in review. Which carmakers and ad agencies executed outstanding efforts, which had some decent doubles and triples and which were just plain so-so?

Let’s start with the good news.

Chrysler Group scored big with its launch work for the return of the new, modern Dodge Dart. Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, really hit it over the fence with this commercial that also debuted the tag line “New Rules”

Not only is this spot clever and witty, the art direction really catches your eye. Plus, this ad actually gives viewers a real sense of the brand.

Chrysler also gets high marks for the commercial for Fiat USA, dubbed “Immigrants” from The Richards Group. The :60 spot, which broke in the summer, hilariously depicts the next-gen 500 arriving to our shores- the hard way.

Like the Dodge spot, this is fun to watch and should put a smile on your face. It’s a perfect way to convey the car’s Italian heritage, which wasn’t the case in 2011 when Chrysler partnered with Jennifer Lopez for Fiat ads- a total disconnect that looked more like a music video for her new song than a spot for the car.

Both the Dart and 500 spots spotlight music from popular artists, a tactic preferred by Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois to grab viewers’ attention. The song in the Dodge ad is “No Church in the Wild” by J-Z and Kanye. The Fiat commercial pushed the new “Sexy People” single from Pitbull featuring Arianna. In neither case do the songs overpower the commercials.

Speaking of smiling, how about Volkswagen of America’s brand blitz that bowed with the :30 spot called “Smiles,” showing people of all ages laughing. There are no cars in this brilliant commercial from Deutsch in Los Angeles. It really captures the essence of the brand with the line “it’s not the miles, you how you live them.” The spot directs viewers to the whyvw.com sites, where they can post stories about their VWs or learn more about the cars from other owners and from VW.

Quite a brave move for a car marketer to not show a car in an ad, so kudos to VW’s CMO and chief product officer Tim Mahoney and his right-hand man Kevin Mayer, VP-marketing.

One of the most memorable spots that didn’t show a car was Jeep’s award-winning 1994 commercial, dubbed “Snow Covered” from the now-defunct Bozell in Southfield, Michigan.

Audi of America, which has been one of the industry’s best and most consistent advertisers in terms of creative, hits it out of the park again early in 2012 with a spot called “Ahab” for its all-wheel-drive Quattro system. The commercial spoofs Herman Melville’s epic sea captain character in search of an elusive whale with a northern tow truck operator and his frustration with never “hooking” an Audi with Quattro stuck in the snow. A very smart and entertaining execution from Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco.

While we’re on Audi, the brand’s Super Bowl “Vampire” commercial for its LED headlights did the best among all the top 10 spots in the 2012 Big Game, ranking 7th for Most Liked, according to Nielsen consumer research the best showing for any carmaker. The commercial was certainly over the top and tapped into the nation’s current craze for vampires.

Audi also ranked highly in my 2011 review. 

It was good to see American Honda Motor Co. raising the creative bar for both its brands in the Super Bowl. The Honda CR-V commercial starred Matthew Broderick spoofing his role in the flick “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The commercial was one of the best from RPA in Santa Monica for Honda in a long time and blew away the earlier launch work for the CR-V. The spot ranked 10th Most Liked among all Super Bowl ads by Nielsen research,.

The automaker’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial for Acura was also a hit. In the Big Game, a media outlet where advertisers need to go big or be invisible, Acura met the challenge with a funny spot for the NSX starring funny men and car nuts Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. USA Today’s AdMeter, based on consumer voting for their favorite Super Bowl ad on Facebook in 2012, ranked Acura’s spot number 13 and Honda’s 16.

Unfortunately, Honda and Acura’s over-the-top Super Bowl commercials weren’t enough to keep their ad agencies, RPA and sibling rp&, both in Santa Monica, out of the hot seat. Both accounts recently went into review.

Toyota Motor USA’s Lexus brand also made some inroads into improving creative with the launch of the new 2013 ES and first ES Hybrid. One of the launch commercials, dubbed “Split World” grabbed your attention with special effects and a script that made sense. Bravo to Brian Smith, VP-marketing at Lexus and kudos to Team One

Sister brand Toyota still isn’t there yet. But Toyota’s “Real Owners. Real Stories” TV commercial for the Camry, with online video assets and accompanying web site is not only well done, but is getting tons of input. Toyota figured out how to tweak a year-old site for the Camry launch and took it up a few notches

When it comes to Ford Motor Co., its Ford brand has had some of the most consistent work in the category all year. The advertising from TeamDetroit in Dearborn is visually interesting, makes relevant points and is strategic without shoving people’s faces into it.

Take this launch commercial for the 2013 Fusion. Great way to bring to life the Big Idea of standing out from rivals, which disappear.

Let’s look at Hyundai Motor America. After a pretty decent run with some of the best ads in the industry, seems too many of Hyundai’s ads are getting a bit formulaic. The brand’s Super Bowl commercials, from Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, were nothing to write home about.

There are some signs of improvement with the September launch work for the 2013 Sante Fe, themed “Don’t Tell” mom or dad

Shows there are still signs of creative life at the ad agency and at Hyundai.

I’d like to recognize Cadillac as one of the most improved auto advertisers. After a less-than-stellar appearance in the 2012 Super Bowl, General Motors’ lux brand blew out of the gates with impressive summer launch work for the new ATS compact sedan. The work, from Fallon, Minneapolis, was themed “Cadillac ATS vs. The World,” showing how the car performs on some of the ing on and some of the planet’s wildest and most challenging roads. Cadillac smartly posted lots of behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube, as well as links on Facebook and elsewhere.

Keep it up! We’d like to see all of Cadillac’s sibling brands take it up a notch also. Although there were some break-out ads for Chevrolet last year, there simply haven’t been enough of them.

Note to GM and its ad chiefs: Please take some risks!

Looking forward to seeing more break-through work from all auto advertisers in this New Year.

MAKING TRACKS: Steve Rosenblum recently started as general manager of Publicis Kaplan Thaler in Manhattan, which handles the account for the Tri State Honda Dealers Association. Rosenblum had been consulting since leaving General Motors in late 2011 after 15 years in various ad and marketing positions.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook

and on Twitter @jhal2001

Nissan’s Olympic Gold

Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. made a lot of noise at its global headquarters today about  one of the most popular athletes of the 2012 Summer Games in London.

The Japanese automaker inked a deal with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who not only extends his brand ambassador deal with Nissan’s hot GT-R sports car, but he gets the outrageous title of global title “Director of Excitement” at the company.

WOW! Fun stuff.

Nissan flew Bolt in for the hoopla and posted s lots of videos (in Japanese) of his arrival at the airport, leaving the airport in the GT-R and the more formal events with corporate brass in Yokohama. Said Bolt : “Racing is my inspiration, and I want to help Nissan become an even more exciting brand for everyone.”

The carmaker said it will develop a special, limited-edition GT-R although no specifics were given. Nissan presented Bolt with a unique, gold GT-R, which will be auctioned online to benefit his Usain Bolt Foundation.

Details of that auction are due later this month and will benefit children and young adults in Jamaica.

Not usually a fan of celebrity tie-ins, but this one works since the GT-R is such a niche model. Nissan sold just 968 of them in the US in the first 9 months of 2012.

The links are almost too obvious, really. Bolt has a slew of Olympic gold medals & his special version of the car is gold. Bolt is called the fastest man in the world and the GT-R is crazy fast. The 2013 model churns out 545 horses, while still meeting ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) standards.

Nissan first hooked up with Bolt early this year. Within months, Bolt, a GT-R owner since 2009, was appearing in airport ads for the car and online videos like this one for Nissan,  themed “What if you had no competition”

Smart move, Nissan.

MAKING TRACKS: General Motors Chairman-CEO CEO Dan Akerson tapped Robert Ferguson to the new position of vice president to lead Cadillac’s growth and development globally. Ferguson, 53, joined GM in 2010 and was VP for global public policy. He’ll now be responsible for Cadillac marketing, brand management and advertising around the world.

I’m sure Ferguson is a very smart and decent man. But the fact of the matter is Cadillac needs and deserves a proven player to lead it forward. There’s no time for learning curves here. That boat has sailed and Cadillac is already late.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit and Forbes.com

And on Twitter:  @jhal2001


South Korea- based Hyundai has been on a roll in the past several years, with much-improved products that have boosted sales and lifted the brand’s image around the world.

Why mess with success, right?

Not exactly.

The marketing “gurus” at the Mother Ship in Seoul decided it was time for Hyundai’s first worldwide ad campaign to build a consistent global message for the brand. Or maybe they felt it was time to flex their authoritative muscles or justify their positions.

What did they come up with?  A new brand campaign themed  “Live Brilliant.”


Take a look at this lame attempt to stir emotions, just one of four :60 television commercials in the series

How does this differentiate Hyundai from others? Not much. Seems you could just pick another car brand and insert it into this spot. Also don’t see how this ties to Hyundai’s stated strategy to reinforce its new brand direction of “Modern Premium.”

Who uses the word “brilliant” anyway, unless you’re talking about your kids?

Believe it or not, Hyundai says it spent a year doing leg work preparing for this, including consumer research. Then it shot the commercials over 10 days in Los Angeles earlier this year.

And the Mother Ship spent some dough on this, hiring award winning German director Juergen Bollmeyer and buying “Departures,” the song from “Like Crazy,” which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Drama last year at  Sundance.

What Hyundai’s Mother Ship DIDN’T do was consult in other regions with its marketing chiefs or officials from Innocean, the ad agency owned by Hyundai’s controlling family. Instead, the Mother Ship simply forced this work down their throats, regional strategies be damned.

Mind you, Hyundai in North America just launched its new ad slogan “New Thinking. New Possibilities” about 14 months ago. It takes a lot of time for the public to grasp new ad themes. Sometimes people never catch on to ad tags, especially if they are inane, which too many of them are.

We’re not a fan of the Mother Ship dictating ads to other parts of the world.

Here’s some examples. From Japan, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. decided in 2011 it was time for its Subaru of America arm to use the new ad theme “Confidence in Motion,” which has zero emotional appeal. From Germany, Volkswagen insisted in 2009 that VW of America use “Das Auto” to convey German engineering. DUH!

Hyundai’s “Brilliant” idea?

I think not.

MAKING TRACKS: Michael Jackson is returning to Motown and he’s bringing his year-old ad agency with him.

His year-old shop, Jackson & Partners, is relocating from Las Vegas to Midtown Detroit and expects to create 30 news jobs in the next three years. Jackson’s partners are Detroit-area native and auto creative chief Gary Topolewski, along with Randy Easterbrook, an indie communications consultant who has done work for many big companies, including General Motors and Mini.

 Jackson joined GM in 2000 as executive director of sales and marketing support, but he rose to VP-marketing and advertising for North America in 2006, overseeing a $2-billion-plus ad budget.  He left GM and Detroit in 2007.  Since then he was CEO of SPEEDSHAPE, worked at digital shop Sarkissian Mason and more recently VP of global sales and distribution for Coda in California.

 J&P’s current client roster includes auto dealers on both coasts, plus brand-building work for a nationally-known jewelry group.

Mr. Easterbrook is in the process of moving from New York.

Topolewski’s experience includes Jeep at Bozell, where he and his team won a Gold Lion at Cannes; Cadillac at Leo Burnett; and Nissan, Taco Bell and Apple at TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Good luck, guys!

MAKING TRACKS TOO: Bob Rickert has joined the Denver-area office of HMH as executive creative director, handling accounts that include Nike, Freightliner, Detroit Diesel and Dr. Martens. Rickert had stints at David&Goliath on Kia and Saatchi & Saatchi on Toyota.

You can find me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn and also on Twitter @ jhal2001

Help Wanted: Luxury Brand Advertising

Someone call the ad police!

There’s too many crimes being committed against some luxury car brands.

One example is Toyota’s Lexus brand, a proven player that recently topped J.D. Power’s 2012 CSI ranking in the lux won segment for the fourth straight year.

Here’s the brand’s latest television spot for the new 2013 GS from TeamOne in El Segundo


Sorry, folks, but this commercial is a big snoozer that doesn’t do justice to this brand, just like the spot Lexus ran during the Super Bowl this year.

Could these yawn-worthy ads be part of the reason buyer consideration for Lexus is down 11% in the first two months of the year compared to a year ago, according to CNW’s Purchase Path Studies? Lexus also made a big deal about its official marketing partnership with Sports Illustrated magazine’s swimsuit property. It was a no-brainer for Lexus to have a four-page spread in the issue.  Bu the brand also backed several related events,  offered custom integrations for digital tablets and created an iPhone game.

The wildest tie-in was the racetrack Lexus created in the shape of swimsuit model Tori Praver’s body. Consumers can watch online videos of pro drivers zooming around that so-called TORI 500 track or use a camera app to put Tori in their own photos.

No secret Lexus is trying to attract younger males, saying in its press release that the annual SI Swimsuit hoopla reaches more than 70 million people and more men between the ages of 18 and 34 than the Super Bowl.

Lexus isn’t the only offender.

Let’s move onto Cadillac, which  is still airing this commercial for the CTS-V coupe from Fallon that broke last fall

Oh dear. We get the main point Caddy is trying to make here in this :60 spot. But why waste precious seconds with the silly valet tipping scene? That part I don’t get…and if you do please explain it to me.

Despite a slew of lackluster advertising, including a poor showing in the Super Bowl, the GM brand has managed to increase buyer consideration by 6% in January and February vs. the same year-ago period, CNW says.

Congrats Caddy, but please juice up your advertising.

Another lux maker with so-so messaging is Acura, which has had a long string of irrelevant ads with the exception of its over-the-top Seinfeld-Leno Super Bowl spot for the NSX.

Acura just posted its upcoming commercial for the 2013 RDX on YouTube, part of a multi-media partnership with Marvel’s “The Avengers” flick, arriving May 4 in theaters

rp&, a division of the Honda brand’s ad agency RPA in Santa Monica, handles Acura

Consideration for Acura slid by 19% in the first two months of 2012 compared to a year ago, CNW says.

Making some progress, but not there yet, is Nissan’s Infiniti brand, which just launched its new JX crossover with new work from TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Have a gander

Not a big fan of features’ advertising, but the backup collision intervention system seems worth crowing about.

Infiniti couldn’t resist  throwing in the third-row seating in the same spot too!

After losing its way for a while, BMW has made great progress with the launch work for the new 3 Series. Love the humor in this one from Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners

What a fun way to highlight a feature and sure to get chuckles from men who aren’t on the best of terms with their mothers-in-law.

Glad to see BMW making a strong push back to its “Ultimate Driving Machine” ad tag.

As far as the offenders, in at least one case, which I won’t call out, the top marketer is really a sales pro. Moving sales folks into marketing slots is a common industry tradition. But it’s not smart. As I have often told top OEM execs : “You wouldn’t  put a finance expert in charge of design, so why do you  think it’s OK to put a sales person in the top marketing job?”

Sales and marketing, although  usually lumped together in one silo, require  vastly different skill sets. And in today’s increasingly complex communications world, companies with experienced, trained ad pros certainly seem to outperform  their rivals.

It is amazing to me that OEMs still fail to realize this.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn

or on Twitter  @jhal2001

*This post first appeared as Jean Halliday’s Ad Rap in CNW’s monthly, subscriber-only newsletter.



The countdown clock is ticking until the kick-off of Super Bowl XLVI and more auto advertisers are revealing their Game Day commercials. Noticeably absent in the pre-game hype- AGAIN this year- is Chrysler Group. Last year, Chrysler was mum until its 2-minute “Imported From Detroit” spot for the Chrysler 200 aired during the game. Sometimes surprises are good. This year, Chrysler will have a :90 commercial that we’ll all just have to wait to see.

American Honda Motor unleashed a long version of its Super Bowl commercial, starring actor Matthew Broderick in a modern-day version of his movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

This 2:25 video shows Broderick calling in sick and escaping in his all-new, fourth-generation 2012 Honda CR-V to have some fun.

This is a fun spot that’s bound to break through the clutter during the Big Game this Sunday. Honda’s longtime agency, RPA in Santa Monica, tapped big-time director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) for this work.

The commercial is one of the best RPA has done for Honda in a long time and is far and away superior to the first launch work for the new CR-V that broke at the start of the year, including this one from RPA, called “Proposal”

Honda’s CR-V Super Bowl commercial is also tied into the Leaplist. Honda.com site, where there’s a CR-V Leap Year Contest to win a new CR-V and other prizes. Honda has smartly tied in with social media, encouraging its Facebook fans to find and comment on the dozens of “Easter eggs” in the spot reminiscent of the original Bueller flick. That link is http://www.facebook.com/hondacrv

And here comes the Toyota brand, which is advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in three years.

Toyota is pushing the seventh-generation 2012 Camry with this entertaining commercial called “Reinvented” from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles

Although this version is a minute long, this spot will be sliced to a :30 commercial for the Super Bowl and one of two :30s the brand will have in the game. Toyota says this commercial is scheduled to air in the third quarter and will be backed by a social media play kicking off after the spot airs. Viewers will be encouraged to go to Twitter and tweet with the #Reinvented hashtag about what they’d like to see reinvented. Toyota will respond to select tweets in real time with a creative depiction of that idea.
Toyota doesn’t have a history of exciting advertising, so this one is a breath of fresh air.

Not so for Kia, which has only released a sexy teaser for its Super Bowl commercial, starring Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima for the new Optima

We’ll see if the old adage “Sex Sells” works for Kia in this case. Don’t bet on it. We much prefer Kia’s “Epic” entry in last year’s Super Bowl for the Optima, also from DavidandGoliath in Los Angeles.

Kia’s affiliate, Hyundai is back for its fifth straight year as a Big Game advertiser. Hyundai said it will have five spots on game day: two during the pre-game, one in pre-kick slot and two in the game. Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, is the brand’s creative agency of record.

Hyundai is using the very-recognizable and uplifting theme from the movie “Rocky” for this minute-long spot, called “All For One,” about team work at its Montgomery, Alabama plant

Then there’s this one, called “Think Fast,” for the 2013 Genesis Coupe, which comes with a 348-horsepower, V-6 engine

How about this one for the 201-horsepower Veloster Turbo?

Sorry, but a guy getting mauled by a cheetah isn’t that funny.

Hyundai is also patting itself on the back for its big win for the 2012 Elantra as Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month with this commercial, called “Victory Lap”

Look for that one to air sometime before the game starts.

Lastly is Cadillac, which is pre-launching its new ATS with this snoozer called “Green Hell” from Fallon

There are certainly a lot of car ads made at Germany’s Nürburgring, so this commercial won’t break through the clutter. If you’re going to advertiser in the Super Bowl- Go Big or don’t bother!

Late Edition Addition: Honda’s Acura brand is pulling out all the stops for its first appearance as a Super Bowl advertiser. The brand has a minute-long spot featuring Jerry Seinfeld, who tries his hardest to move from number 20 to first on the list to get the new, upcoming 2012 NSX. There’s appearances by the Soup Nazi, Jay Leno, an, an alien and dancing holographic monkeys. You can see the longer 1:52 version here

Acura says it wants to strengthen its brand awareness. No doubt. The brand sold 123,299 new vehicles in the USA last year, an 8% drop from 2010.

The spot, called “Transactions,” was created by Acura’s agency rp&, a sibling of Honda’s longtime shop RP&A in Santa Monica.

OUCH! And Chevrolet has taken direct aim at Volkswagen’s already-released Big Game commercial teaser, with dogs barking out Star Wars’ theme song.

General Motors’ volume brand has uploaded a dog video of its own, from the popular OK Go group. Chevy teamed with the band for a new MTV video arriving this weekend featuring the Sonic. Chevy doesn’t call out VW by name, but in describing the video on YouTube says “we’ve all seen videos with talented dogs. Chevrolet’s favorite came from OK Go last year.”

Let the game begin!

(See my earlier posts for Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Lexus and Suzuki’s Bowl entries)

MAKING TRACKS: Anthony Kuhn joined Everist Genomics Inc as Director of Strategic Alliances. Tony has lots of ad agency experience, having worked at TBWA, Lowe and Bozell.

FOLLOW ME, JEAN HALLIDAY : on Facebook & LinkedIn

On TWITTER @jhal2001

GM’s Advertising Is Disappointing

General Motors has had plenty of time to get its advertising house in order.
It’s been more than a year now since the General moved the account for its biggest brand, Chevrolet, to San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partnership. And the one-year anniversary of Fallon, Minneapolis, taking over the Cadillac account, is coming up.
Overall, the work has been a huge disappointment, with only a few shining moments.
A shame really, since what better time for GM to really kick their advertising into high gear. GM should have used this time to clearly define each of its four brands, differentiate them and try to win back American buyers with compelling communications in all channels.
And a bigger shame when you also consider how much GM is spending. The automaker shelled out $542 million in U.S. measured media in the first quarter of this year, according to Kantar. That was enough to rank GM as the nation’s third largest advertiser. GM outspent the three other carmakers in the top 10 – #7 Chrysler; #8 Toyota and #9 Ford. GM outspent Ford by $243 million, Toyota by $235 million and Chrysler by $223 mil.
Arguably, at least two of those other automakers are getting more bang for their ad buck.
Now the grapevine is buzzing that Goodby Silverstein is in the hot seat with GM.
And Fallon had an exodus of its Detroit staffers on Caddy, with less than 10 of its original 22 staffers still standing a couple of months ago. Some of them split on their own; others were pushed.
Is there a Chevy or Cadillac ad that impressed any one of you and made you say “I wish we had done that?” I doubt it.
Even Joel Ewanick, GM’s VP of global marketing, seems frustrated.
During a recent interview on Autoline Detroit, Ewanick confessed he’s been hard on all of GM’s agencies, including Leo Burnett USA on Buick and GMC. (Ads for those two brands aren’t setting the world on fire either.) He said the reason he’s tough on them is he’s looking for consistency in the messaging.
While Joel handed kudos to Fallon for “nailing” Caddy’s new ad theme of “red-blooded luxury” in the first TV commercial early this year, he admitted “we had some trouble getting the (other) ads ready,” and those others were “just okay.”
Yeah, like this one- still airing- called “Raindrops” for the CTS-V. Narrator Laurence Fishburne tells us in the spot: “ When you build the world’s fastest production sedan, you consider everything. Like at 190 mph, even a simple raindrop becomes a powerful force. The Cadillac CTS-V, every detail built for speed and performance, right down to the windshield wipers. We don’t just make luxury cars, we make Cadillacs.”

Windshield wipers? Really? And this has exactly WHAT to do with Cadillac? You gotta wonder what they were thinking.
Actually Sherry Weitzman, national ad manager of Caddy, explains in this behind-the-scenes’ YouTube video that the big idea behind the ad is to show the brand’s attention to detail, craftsmanship and excellent engineering.

But is that what the commercial is really doing?  Not even close.
This YouTube video has only gotten 5,500 views in six months- not exactly a viral marketing miracle by any means.
Seems the Fallon guys just wanted to use their fancy camera. And the commercial is too similar to a Cadillac Super Bowl spot about 7 years ago showing a car driving through rain in slow motion.
At least Fallon didn’t propose an ad with sofas driving down the road, as Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York did during its short tenure on the account. BBH figured just because THEY thought of Cadillacs that way, the rest of the world still did. Hello!
Speaking of Fallon, Ewanick admitted “it’s never the agency’s fault, totally.” (A main truism of the business rarely verbalized by CMOs) So, he said, the client made people changes at both Fallon and inside GM.
Meanwhile, on Chevrolet, Ewanick gave Goodby a grade of “a solid C” overall. (Ouch!) Although he added “thanks to the Super Bowl, it was closer to a B.”
Were we watching the same Super Bowl with all those so-so commercials for Chevrolet?
At any rate, what compelling advertising have we seen for Chevrolet since then? Can’t think of any? Me neither.
Chevy should be in high gear by now with its new messaging and ad tag “Chevy Runs Deep.” But we’re simply not seeing it. That’s a damn shame. Let’s hope Goodby hits it out of the park for Chevrolet’s big centennial communications.
“You’ll see the work get better,” said Ewanick.
Let’s hope so.

MAKING TRACKS: MARTIN COLLINS has recently returned to Ford Motor Co. as a general sales manager after 4+ years at Group One Automotive, where he was most recently regional VP in the West. He’s moved back to Michigan to work in Dearborn. Marty started his career in 1985 at Ford where he held a variety of assignments within Ford Division including marketing, field operations, franchising, product development and strategy. He also worked internationally, where he was Northern Regional Manager for Ford of Britain for two years. Welcome back, Marty!