Cadillac furthers its new image with an ode to the American garage. And the Ramones!

December 6, 2013

No automotive company has done more to alter their brand’s image than Cadillac. Via edgy product design and mostly provocative creative approach to advertising, Cadillac has taken a tired symbol of wealth (the car for white grandpa’s and stereotypical black pimps) and fashioned it into an aggressive lineup of slick and sporty vehicles.

This transformation happened in recent memory. Which is only to say I can still remember the other Cadillac. Vividly. My grandfather had one. I loved playing with the power windows (then a newish feature) and pretending I was in a limo. In a funeral. Which, I suppose, was exactly the problem.

Whether we like the new Cadillac or will ever purchase one remains to be seen but we must give the automaker credit for trying and succeeding in making this epic change. A lot of things could have gone wrong.

I speak from experience. Back in the day I was part of the team at Leo Burnett responsible for invigorating the Oldsmobile brand. As with Cadillac, General Motors had totally redesigned their fleet. For advertising, we’d come up with the now famous (infamous?) “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile.” Lots of history here, some controversial, which I’ve written about before. Regardless, less than a decade later Oldsmobile was out of business.

So, kudos to Cadillac! You made it into the 21st century. They and their marketing agencies deserve a lot of credit.

For me, two commercials define Cadillac’s transformation. The first one happened early on during Cadillac’s rebirthing. Visually, the spot was nothing out of the ordinary- just driving footage against beautiful scenery. But a couple things were decidedly different. First, the car itself had been conspicuously altered from every Caddy before it. So much so I’m not sure most folks (including me) had even liked it. With its bodacious lines and risky silhouette, I thought it was perhaps trying too hard to be different. Looking back I can better appreciate this radical design change. It took balls. Second, and to me just as conspicuous, was the spot’s usage of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll” for a soundtrack. Whether you consider Zep dinosaurs or not, nothing signified Cadillac’s resurgence better than this famously badass tune.


Been a long time since I did the stroll…

The other TVC I’d like to call out (posted up front) pays homage to all the great innovations and inventions having occurred in garages: HP, Apple, Amazon and numerous other hugely famous companies all mentioned by name. Including another iconic band, the garage-born Ramones! Then we see the new Cadillac coming out of a garage.

While I concede any new car could have starred in this commercial it was Cadillac that did. By linking itself to so many modern success stories, particularly in technology, Cadillac has once again has broken away from its history of being a pimp mobile or, worse yet, your grandfather’s champagne colored boat.

About these ads

9 Responses to “Cadillac furthers its new image with an ode to the American garage. And the Ramones!”

  1. Mike Ray said

    The Ramones most certainly did not start in a garage… they lived in apartments and had no garages.

  2. Richard said

    The Ramones never played in a garage. They started in Joey’s mom’s Art Gallery basement.

  3. lex said

    also, there was no mention of Apple, unbelievably.

  4. Matt Sample said

    does anyone know who created the commercial? like a specific person

  5. Marc said

    I thought the Ramones started in a garage in Affluent suburban Scarsdale. The jackets and ripped jeans were part of the ‘costume”. I saw them three times between 1976-1977, and while enrgetic at the Whiseky a-go-go, the other two times came off as cartoon act ready to be franchised for merchandise sales.
    More creative directors for ad agencies need to be better read, and more savvy in film and music, or maybe not.

    • Steffan1 said

      Marc- not sure if you’re ripping me for some reason but as for the Ramones you could not be more wrong. They are from Queens. Anyone -and I mean anyone- who knows anything about rock history knows that.

  6. Karen said

    I think it is a very creative ad and even brilliant as that fails. By the end of the ad, I’m not waiting a Cadillac, I’m wanting a garage. the as has reminded me that garages and innovation go hand in hand and if only I had a garage, I could do great things

  7. Mrs. Dahl said

    The Wright Brothers did not start in a garage either. I worked as a docent for years talking about how the Wright Brothers built and test many of their glider parts in the back of their bicycle shop in Dayton, OH. They did not have a garage at Kitty Hawk, NC for the successful flight tests. They used a shed of a family from that area after researching the best places for the right wind conditions with the U.S. Weather services of their day. I wish people who get the correct history.

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