Cadillac goes big in Oscars with major ad buy

The GM brand will consume four-minutes of ad time as it launches 'Rise' campaign

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Cadillac is coming back to the Oscars in a big way. The General Motors luxury brand will consume four minutes of ad time during Sunday's broadcast of the award show on ABC as it launches a new campaign called "Rise" that pushes its SUV portfolio. The buy includes four new ads set to Childish Gambino's "Me and Your Mama."

Cadillac holds exclusive national advertising rights for the show in the automotive category, meaning if other brands want in they must buy local ads. The campaign, by Publicis Groupe's Rokkan, marks one of the first big marketing initiatives under Cadillac global chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl, who joined the automaker last year after running U.S. marketing for McDonald's.

The "Rise" campaign plays off the fact that SUV's ride higher than regular cars—one of the factors that have fueled their popularity. But Cadillac is also using the phrase to stake out an aspirational positioning. Marketing includes a new emphasis on the blue portion of the Cadillac logo (or crest), which is depicted in ads as an upward-leading staircase. Cadillac will bring this to life with an integration during the pre-show "Oscars Live on the Red Carpet" program that features an illuminated blue staircase that celebrities will use to get to a stage for interviews.

"'Rise' gives life to the spirit of perseverance that has always been part of Cadillac," Wahl said in a press release. "The new Crest treatment illustrates the brand's determination and will to succeed — the same traits possessed by those winners who ascend the staircase to the stage at the Academy Awards".

The "Rise" campaign marks the official end of Cadillac's "Dare Greatly" tagline. That campaign, launched under previous CMO Uwe Ellinghaus, sought to connect Cadillac to big ideas and emotions with some ads in which vehicles were hardly shown or mentioned. But since Ellinghaus left in late 2017, Cadillac has made a concerted effort to put the focus back on its fleet.

"After some careful thought and consideration, we felt it was best to take our name back and be unapologetically Cadillac again," Wahl said in a statement to Ad Age about the decision to end "Dare Greatly." She added: "In our newest brand campaign, 'Rise,' we have decided to allow the Cadillac name and our crest speak for themselves and continue to tell the story of our reinvention. And it begins with our growing SUV portfolio."

One of the new ads, called "Rise Above" (see it above), shows high-achieving women interwoven with scenes of Cadillac SUVs shown in cities and on the open road. The other three spots (below) give focus to three individual models: the Escalade, XT4 and XT5. Cadillac is counting on the SUVs to fuel a comeback in the U.S., where sales have been sluggish. Last year, sales dropped 1.1 percent to 154,702 vehicles, according to Automotive News.

The Oscars campaign also includes a partnership with Yalitza Aparicio, the Mexican actress who stars in "Roma," which is nominated for best picture. She will be part of social media ads that include the "#KeepRising" hashtag and feature stories of people breaking barriers and overcoming adversity.

The Oscars campaign marks the sixth-straight year Cadillac has served as a sponsor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Below, see the three other Oscars ads:

"Take the Stage"

"Take Flight"

"Make Your Escape"

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