This article is part of the GM Authority Mailbag series, where the GM Authority Crew features and replies to your questions, comments, and observations.
Cody from New York writes in to say:
A few months ago, I was test driving an Audi A5 Coupe to replace my A4 when I saw a car that I have never seen before or did not know about, but I fell in love with. That car was a Cadillac ATS Coupe. I bought it and after about four months of having it now, I love it. It gets complimented almost daily. But there’s one problem.
When people ask me what I drive without seeing the car in front of them, and I tell them that I drive a Cadillac ATS Coupe, they have no clue what I am talking about and look at me in puzzled bewilderment. They don’t know what a Cadillac ATS is, that there is a gorgeous coupe of it with two doors, how sexy it looks, how fun it is to drive or how much technology is in it. So they end up buying Benzes and Bimmers, Audis and Lexuses despite Cadillac having a pretty good chance at stealing at least some of those sales.
I am a small business owner and this is the most basic of principles: build a solid product and then let people know about it. Cadillac has done the first part of that equation. Why has it not done the second?
How are people supposed to know about the great Cadillacs ATS, CTS, etc. and then buy them instead of a BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus or Infiniti, if Cadillac doesn’t tell any one about the cars? And what good is it to sponsor highbrow fashion whatnots in New York City when you don’t even have a national spot running on TV?
Now, the ATS Coupe is my first Cadillac in twenty years of buying cars. I love the car, but I am also disappointed and discouraged about the weak and almost non-existent marketing of today’s great Cadillacs. And though I don’t mind doing it, I should not be the one explaining to people what an ATS Coupe is or how and why it is awesome; Cadillac should be, doing that. What I should be doing is reaffirming their message.
So my questions: why has Cadillac not been aggressively advertising its great product lineup? Will it do so in the future? If so, when? Or in short: what in the hell is going on with Cadillac marketing?
I couldn’t say it any better, Cody.
I see them all the time for BMW, especially the 3 Series, and for Audi and Lexus. When is the last time Cadillac introduced or ran a TV commercial that truly presented the bread-and-butter product (ATS, CTS, SRX) in a positive light and made you consider researching the car or visiting a dealership to check it out in person? Not for a while. In fact, not this year, period.
The reality is that Cadillac has been very quiet on the advertising front in general. It debuted its new Dare Greatly brand campaign in February, followed it up with one spot featuring the SRX crossover (a spot that could win the most boring and unexciting ad of the year award), redesigned its website, and then went dark — not releasing or running any new spots, and not running previous ones. All this makes us wonder about the point of launching Dare Greatly so early on in the year, only to have nothing (absolutely nothing) in the months that followed. At this point, everyone except for the most loyal enthusiasts have probably forgotten about the message, anyway.
What’s most surprising is that Cadillac is the challenger not only from a product point of view, but from a brand and image standpoints as well. And to not try and communicate the benefits of Cadillac’s bread-and-butter ATS and CTS is absolutely bewildering. No wonder sales of both are steadily sinking. What’s perhaps even more sad is that, outside of products, there just doesn’t seem to be much energy behind the Cadillac brand. The product, as you say, can’t do all the talking — you have to let people know about it as well through marketing.
Now, we’ve reported that Cadillac is working on some sort of a follow-up campaign to Dare Greatly. But details like when it will launch, what it will be like, and how often the spots will run are mysteries and this point. Here’s to hoping that Cadillac has been quietly working behind the scenes on an impressive and hard-hitting campaign that we won’t have to wait for much longer.