Cadillac is Oscars auto host

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

The 91st annual Academy Awards will not have a host this year (unless rumors that Whoopi Goldberg will make a surprise appearance are correct), but the show will have an exclusive automotive partner.

Cadillac has landed a leading role throughout the Oscars weekend.

Cadillac will debut its "Rise" campaign at the Oscars show Sunday. The ads focus on the brand's new, full lineup of SUVs.

The brand’s “Rise” campaign will include transforming the red carpet with the luxury brand’s logo, debuting four SUV-focused TV ads and the #KeepRising Twitter hashtag, and pairing with celebrities like best-actress nominee Yalitza Aparicio of “Roma” and musician Childish Gambino (aka actor Donald Glover).

Even GM’s Detroit headquarters got in on the act Friday when the Renaissance Center lit up with the Cadillac crest.

At the center of the campaign is the iconic crest re-imagined, its four, blue horizontal elements forming a rising staircase. That staircase theme punctuates each of the four TV ads – and will literally form blue stairs for Hollywood stars to ascend to the red-carpet stage during the pre-ceremony “Oscars Live On The Red Carpet.”

The installation will be the focus of two celebrity interviews who will share their #KeepRising stories from the blue steps – followed by a Cadillac commercial.

“'Rise’ gives life to the spirit of perseverance that has always been part of Cadillac,” says chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl. “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. It’s the perfect platform to showcase our aspirational Cadillac SUV lineup.”

Now in its sixth year as the Oscars' auto sponsor, Cadillac has paired its aspirational brand with award nominees achieving their dreams.

The Rise campaign is a departure from the brand’s ambitious, four-ad 2015 Oscars package that introduced a “Dare Greatly” campaign dovetailing with Caddy’s move to New York City. That campaign also debuted the brand's flagship CT6, a sedan whose future is in question as the brand focuses on SUVs.

For 2019, Cadillac has moved back to its Metro Detroit home, and the commercials film its vehicles in a variety of rural and urban environments.

With the introduction of the 2020 XT6 at this year’s Detroit auto show, Cadillac for the first time boasts a full SUV lineup, including the compact XT4, midsize XT5, full-size XT6 and truck-based Escalade mega-ute.

While reinventing itself for the 21st century as a sporty, high-tech brand – its V-series sports sedans have won critical raves – Cadillac has struggled against German competitors as it missed the marketplace shift to SUVs.

With its ute family and "Rise" campaign, Cadillac hopes to capture the public’s imagination starting with the Super Bowl of the movie awards season.

SUVs dominate the Oscars commercials. The title spot, “Rise Above,” celebrates success. “May the road rose up to meet you. May the wind be at your back. Rise above,” intones a female voice as a flock of white SUVs flies by to Childish Gambino’s “Me and Your Mama.”

Other commercials highlight the Escalade, XT4 and XT5.

Cadillac kicked off the weekend Thursday night with a party at West Hollywood’s swank Chateau Marmont hotel. Awards attendees will be chauffeured to weekend events in CT6 sedans and Escalades. The Oscars air at 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC, host or no host.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.