When it comes to the Cadillac favored by the rich and famous, no model has more appeal than the Escalade. Once the “me, too!” response to the Lincoln Navigator, the Escalade managed to wrestle the popularity crown through imposing style with sumptuous luxury. However, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer feels the Escalade does alright without celebrity endorsements.
“The brand is strong enough that it doesn’t need to borrow competence from anybody famous. So I’m not interested in celebrity and advertising — whatsoever,” Uwe Ellinghaus told Ad Age. The former BMW executive would rather try to break through with product-driven messages. Evidence of that was famously made during the 2014 Super Bowl’s “Poolside” spot, which featured Cadillac’s plug-in electric hybrid ELR.
“Tesla teaches us a message: If you offer cars with an electric drive-train that have superb driving characteristics and a beautiful [interior], they find customers. What doesn’t work is to position a car for people who are tree-huggers and green-wash an entire brand.”
While sales of the ELR have been very slow, it is a forward-thinking symbol of a cutting-edge brand that has gotten people talking, especially throughout the Internet.
In a similar vein, Ellinghaus has debated Cadillac’s marketing mix. Long a supporter of golf, Cadillac may soon move away from the expected and veer into “experiential marketing that actually gets Tesla, BMW, or Mercedes drivers behind the wheel of [the] latest models than photo ops at sporting events.”
“I take [for] myself the liberty to reassess everything we do in sports and simply ask the question: If our competitors spend 20-40-50-times as much as we do, is it wise to go there just to show we are in their league? Isn’t experiential a better opportunity? To surprise people positively about Cadillac’s presence? Nobody is surprised if you come to a golf tournament and see a luxury-car brand advertising there. It’s exactly what you expect.”