New Cadillac ad campaign coming in 2015

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co.’s storied Cadillac luxury brand, which will open a headquarters in New York City next spring, also has big plans for a marketing and communication splash early next year.

Cadillac has sharpened its focus and plans to build upon three brand “values:” bold, optimistic and sophisticated, said Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s global chief marketing officer.

Advertising and marketing in 2015 will have a new look and feel, plus global consistency and continuity as Cadillac works to build itself a premier global luxury brand, Ellinghaus said in a recent interview.

“We made the very, very deliberate decision to roll out our new look and see ... at exactly the same time we launch our new top-of-the-range car,” said Ellinghaus, who joined Cadillac early this year after working for BMW and luxury pen, watch and jewelry maker Montblanc International. “We think we break through the clutter far more when we have this Cadillac point of view coming along with a car that is the epitome of what Cadillac offers.”

Cadillac plans to debut the new large sedan, the CT6, early next year. It will be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant beginning in late 2015.

Some analysts suggest Cadillac’s sales — down nearly 5 percent in the U.S. through August this year — have suffered due to lack of awareness as Cadillac has faced an onslaught of advertising from luxury competitors.

IHS Automotive senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said Cadillac said more advertising and a campaign around the new 2015 ATS Coupe, launching now, could help the brand.

Cadillac will show a glimpse of its new ideas in ads this fall for the two-door sporty car. For example, look for the car to show up in red on billboards and print ads instead of the typical black that is expected in the luxury space, Cadillac said.

Ellinghaus wants to give Cadillac a louder and more emotional message — something that builds on the brand’s heritage for eye-catching design. Also look for Cadillac’s communication to be more focused on what makes Cadillac different than its German competitor such as Cadillac’s bold expression and personality, said Ellinghaus, a German.

“If you buy an Audi, Mercedes or BMW, you show that you fit into the premium luxury norm. This is the foreseeable car, the expected car in your neighborhood,” Ellinghaus said. “Whereas with a Cadillac, it’s more about standing out rather than fitting in.”

Ellinghaus has given Cadillac’s advertising and marketing agencies a more narrowly focused framework in how to define Cadillac. He said the brand will have a “look-and-see” that is consistent in everything from colors to fonts.

“Expect the future Cadillac communication to have a consistent point of view and also an execution that over time builds recognition,” he said.

Gary Stibel, founder and CEO of the marketing management firm New England Consulting Group in Norwalk, Conn., said Cadillac is launching as a new brand.

“They clearly have to contemporize the brand to be relevant to new generations of mass affluent (buyers),” he said.

Stibel agrees Cadillac should wait to showcase a new campaign until it has a new car to feature.

“To launch without a new product would be a serious mistake,” he said. “You definitely to have something substantive in the showroom.”

Jack Trout, president of marketing and consulting firm Trout & Partners Ltd. in Old Greenwich, Conn., said Cadillac might opt to use a sub-brand name in advertising such as “Excalibur, brought to you by Cadillac” to help perceptionally distance itself from GM.

“It’s hard to change minds…,” he said. “That’s why you have to create something that’s separate and apart, that’s new.”

Changing an image of an auto brand takes a long time, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive. It’ll likely take years to know if Cadillac’s headquarters move to New York and its rebranding succeed. “We’ve seen that, just with the issue with Detroit quality and the gaps with Japanese, which really aren’t real,” Schuster said. “But the perception is still there.”

Ellinghaus wants to use Cadillac’s iconic heritage in marketing that sets it apart from other luxury brands. “I hope that our future communication will just not stop with car porn that shows the beauty… as all the others do, but have a certain magic, a certain flavor that encapsulated this spirit of America, mainly the optimism, the boldness and the belief that the future is better than the present,” he said.

Cadillac’s advertising agency is refocusing its efforts for Cadillac. Last month, Interpublic Group said it was dropping the Rogue name — an agency created for Cadillac more than a year ago — and was realigning to support Cadillac’s global ambitions. The company said Lowe and Partners would take over Cadillac’s advertising and marketing work from Detroit and New York offices.

In June 2013, Cadillac announced it was dropping Fallon Worldwide as its advertising agency in favor of Rogue, which included Interpublic Group’s Hill Holiday, Lowe and Campbell Ewald. Campwell Ewald, based in Warren until it moved in January to Detroit, also announced in summer 2013 it was partnering with London-based Lowe and Partners Worldwide and becoming Lowe Campbell Ewald.

It’s possible some employees from Lowe Campbell Ewald, the U.S. hub for Lowe Partners, will shift to New York.

Kelly Barnes, director of corporate communications for Lowe Campbell Ewald, said the firm was developing staffing plans. in She said Lowe Campbell Ewald’s New York office, which opened in January, houses about 50 people who work on other accounts. That office will be the base of its “expanded Cadillac New York team,” she wrote.