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General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac division is coming out with a line of licensed goods bearing the Catera brand months before the fall launch of the entry-level luxury sedan. That strategy is unusual, and could be risky.

"I wouldn't want people judging me on the apparel. I'd want them judging me on the car," said Alan Feldman, president of Leveraged Marketing Corp. of America, which handles licensing for Eastman Kodak Co. and Westinghouse Corp.

Cadillac dealers can start buying the branded apparel, leather backpacks and water bottles this week from Cadillac. Items will cost $5 to $120.

"We wanted to do it before the launch," said Steve Hill, Cadillac director of merchandising and international activities. The licensed goods are part of an integrated marketing approach for the new car, he said.


Cadillac's licensed products historically have carried Cadillac's crested logo. But Catera's goods carry the car's duck logo, aimed at Catera's target market: active, aging baby boomers.

Integrated Sports International, East Rutherford, N.J., handles Cadillac's licensing programs. It won the account about six months ago from Cadillac's national ad agency, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

But, said auto marketing consultant Jesse Snyder, president of Snyder Research: "Licensed [auto] products don't add that much to the bottom line. The whole idea of licensed apparel is building the image of the vehicle."

Cadillac has been beating the drums for Catera since March 1995, winning a good amount of free publicity.

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