Cadillac Shifts Marketing Focus; Cites 'Startling' Research Findings

New Modernista Ads Target 'Alphas,' 'Hot Moms' and 'Move-Ups'

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DETROIT ( -- General Motors Corp.'s first work for Cadillac from new agency Modernista, Boston, aims to "put a little lust back into the brand."
Cadillac marketing director Liz Vanzura said the new ad blitz will 'romance' the brand's crested logo to show off its iconic nature.
Cadillac marketing director Liz Vanzura said the new ad blitz will 'romance' the brand's crested logo to show off its iconic nature.

Younger demo
So said Liz Vanzura, marketing director of the luxury marquee, in unveiling new print work from the agency, which replaced Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Detroit and Chicago. The car brand is dropping the former shop's "Break Through" ads after a four-year run. Ms. Vanzura said the new push aims to boost consideration of the Cadillac brand among three main targets younger than its current owners. She calls them "alphas," "hot moms" and "move-ups."

"Our mission is to reignite people's love affair with Cadillac," she said.

Cadillac still plans to keep its loyal older owners, and while it wants to attract more baby boomers, Ms. Vanzura said this group is the most difficult to reach because "they are really stuck on Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW and see no reason to switch."

Startling research findings
She said extensive consumer research earlier this year revealed some startling findings: Many younger consumers knew Cadillac's Escalade sport utility vehicle but were unfamiliar with other models. Many didn't see the brand as having a vehicle for them.

Ms. Vanzura said the new blitz will "romance" the brand's crested logo to show off its iconic nature. Gary Koepke, executive creative director and co-founder of Modernista, said the Cadillac print work has a three-pronged approach. Some work highlights the crest; other shows people, "to inject an attitude"; and the rest focuses on a single product to help build model awareness.

Print is rolling out in August magazines, and TV spots are expected later in the month. In mid-August Cadillac for the first time will use wild postings in key markets.

Ms. Vanzura declined to discuss spending but said it will be comparable to 2005. Cadillac spent $226 million in measured U.S. media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Age issues
The median age of Cadillac buyers across its lineup is 59, although Jim Taylor, the brand's general marketing manager, said it dropped from 64 since the 2002 model year, when the CTS sedan launched to replace the Catera.

But Cadillac has a dilemma in trying to retain its older buyers while chasing younger ones. Cadillac is "trying to split its image" by keeping the DTS and STS sedans that appeal more to retirees, said Wes Brown, auto analyst with Iceology.

Mr. Taylor said Cadillac has made good progress since 2002 in "re-establishing the heritage we had in our glory years." The 12 products launched since then brought back dramatic styling, improved quality and gone are the days of "large, floaty boats," he said.

Cadillac reported that U.S. sales in the first half of 2006 slipped by 9% to 110,620 units. The Escalade model was the only one to post a sales increase -- up 25% to 18,874 units. Cadillac launched the redone 2007 Escalade during the Super Bowl this year.
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