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.