CADILLAC CRAFTS FOUR BRAND IMAGES

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Cadillac will develop distinct brand identities for its four model lines, a move designed largely to circumvent younger buyers' resistance to the marque's traditional, conservative image.

The strategic change began with the General Motors Corp. division's 1995 model year advertising that broke Sept. 12. Cadillac agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., developed separate creative and media plans for Seville, Eldorado, DeVille and Fleetwood. Cadillac spends an estimated $140 million a year on ad and promotional efforts.

The strategy is more evidence of an overall shift in marketing thinking at GM, where new models like the Riviera and Aurora are being built up as brands, with a de-emphasis on the Buick and Oldsmobile names.

Cadillac's approach to brands, coupled with a new emphasis on attracting women and black customers (AA, April 11), should set the stage for the mid-1996 introduction of the $30,000 LSE, a "baby Cadillac" derived from GM Europe's Opel Omega model.

Cadillac has been the luxury car sales leader for more than four decades, but it has had a hard time winning over import-loving baby boomers. And with upscale sport-utility vehicles attracting the kinds of buyers who used to buy luxury cars, Cadillac's 1994 unit sales are off 0.9% to 136,485 through the end of August, even though total industry car and truck sales are up 9.3% to 10,236,640 for the year.

Mark LaNeve, Cadillac's director of advertising and market planning, said D'Arcy did extensive research to develop psychographic and lifestyle profiles of the targets for different models.

"We want to enhance the overall Cadillac image, but we also want to talk directly to people interested in individual car lines," Mr. LaNeve said.

Eldorado advertising, aimed at 40-year-old-plus men who seek a feeling of escape in their car, doesn't look like any recent Cadillac campaign.

One commercial shows a primal man dealing with the elements like lightning, fire and water. "No conferences, no appointments, no schedules. For contemporary man, that kind of freedom is found in a different form," says voice-over, as an Eldorado comes into view, parked on top of a butte.

The Seville sedan is aimed at affluent, highly educated men and women under 50 who are proud of their accomplishments. Advertising links the Seville with accomplished sports performers such as Olympic gold medalists Edwin Moses and Frank Shorter.

The DeVille is being pitched to 50-somethings who want a traditional large luxury car with contemporary touches. Cadillac is adapting a format developed earlier this year to build its image with affluent women and black buyers, featuring conversations with Cadillac employees.

The Fleetwood attracts Cadillac's oldest, most traditional buyers who want a large luxury car as a symbol that they have achieved their goals in life. A Fleetwood commercial features a conversation with an owner aimed at persuading former owners who switched to Lincoln to come back to Cadillac.

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