323. Ad of the Week(ish): Red Blooded Luxury.
Jan 1, 2011 at 08:17PM

If you read Graphicology very often at all, you know that I have a soft spot for Cadillac—a brand that has a long history of producing cars with bold design and a unique mix of luxury and performance. Jumping over much of the eighties and nineties, the domestic car manufacturer is once again producing cars with that DNA, the CTS family being a prime example. You will not mistake the Cadillac CTS Coupe for any other car on the road - which is rare thing these days. Even BMW and Mercedes look more and more like the Hyundais and Kias on the road and vice versa. Slowly, the Wreath & Crest is redefining their reputation as well as their demographic. A dark-silver 2005 CTS sedan was my very first new car. A car that I loved. (Cadillac is named after French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who founded Detroit for all you trivia players out there.) Back to the point at hand.

The problem lately with Cadillac (and a lot of GM) has been their marketing. The signing of Fallon as agency of record will help change that no doubt. Fallon produced some of the best auto advertising over the last few decades for BMW and is the perfect agency to help Caddy once again become the Cadillac of car companies. (The rest of GM is in good shape, in particular Chevrolet who signed Goodby as agency of record last year.) So needless to say I've been waiting patiently to find out the type of work Fallon will produce for the iconic brand and we have our first results below.

First, if I were on the account I would push for their tagline to be: The Cadillac of Sport Sedans. The Cadillac of SUVs. The Cadillac of Coupes. You get the idea, filling in the blanks for whatever the particular car they are showcasing. They used similar verbiage on their website but have shied away from using it as an official tagline. I think that language not only builds upon common lexicon but demonstrates the renewed confidence of the brand. All that being said, I don't mind the new tagline: The New Standard of the World, because it too refreshes a very popular tagline from the company's past (actually the company's first tagline from the early 1900's.) It's equally confident and draws a line in the sand. The campaign has a title as well: Red-blooded Luxury. It simply states the unique selling proposition of much of the Cadillac lineup, a bold take on luxury vehicles that no one can question. You may love or hate the new Art & Science industrial design, but you won't be able to ignore it. It also smartly insinuates the domestic nature of the brand ala Red-blooded American. The last point may be lost on some, but I bet it was a selling point made from agency to client and it's a nuance that I find quite intelligent.

I also like the use of Laurence Fishburne for the VO. Normally, I think celebrity voice-over talent is a waste of money, but I find his delivery to be the perfect medium for the message. It's like Morpheus from the Matrix telling you what car you should buy - and you'd buy it too because you don't question Morpheus. Coincidentally, the first version of the CTS was used heavily during the chase scenes in the original Matrix film. The soundtrack comes from the Black Keys' album, Brothers, and the track is called Next Girl. Let's check out the campaign-launching spot that aired earlier today.

Cadillac, Red-Blooded Luxury:

The spot shows what you are lead to believe are the types of people who buy Mercedes or maybe even Lexus(es?). They are passionless, cold, boring and predictable. The spot contrasts that with the personality of Cadillac: hot, unbridled, and fiery. The great thing is that all of this is totally believable. Even if you are not quite ready to say they can compete with the German luxury makes (many auto sites will disagree with you on this point), you probably believe they can compete via their unique perspective on luxury. Luxury for people who still like to mash the throttle from time to time. The spot takes a little truth that people know and states Cadillac's reason for being. You could do a lot worse than that as an advertiser.

You can see how this campaign will begin to mature by viewing this spot for the CTS-V Coupe (A pretty bad ride, which I have test-driven and thoroughly enjoyed.)

Cadillac, Arrows:

So, I have to say my grade for the spots above would be around a B/B+ or 4 stars on a 5 star scale. Or one thumbs up on Ebert's scale. I still think there is more room to give the brand additional attitude; more walking than talking as it were, but the spots are a nice start and all the pieces are in place. I'm intrigued as to how the campaign will develop over the coming years. The fortunate thing for GM is that the marketing has to live up to the product for once and not the other way around. They have the cars. They have the agency. And now they just have to tell the world. The first two spots feel like the conversation starters that they are, and I'm hoping they'll close the deal with future work.

One more interesting tidbit while we're on the subject of Cadillac. Performance after-market tuner Hennessey likes to take the CTS-Vs and make them even more ridiculous from 556 HP all the way up to 700. Here's a video that would make for an excellent commercial. They get the car up over 125 mph so fast that they trigger an OnStar emergency call. Now, that's red-blooded luxury.


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