Cadillac does not face the same challenges in the U.S as it does in China. In fact, Cadillac could be considered quite a success story in China since its introduction in 2004. And the brand continues to grow and reach younger demographics (the average Cadillac buyer is just 33 years old) in the country it dreams of doing in the United States. So, how’d it get there?
Ad Age spoke with Alex Liu, Cadillac brand director at SAIC-GM, who detailed how the marketing message has been tailored for the Chinese consumer. It still starts with “Dare Greatly,” but the message was tweaked for China.
“All greatness comes from daring to begin,” is the tagline’s main ring in China. For Cadillac, it recognized not only the importance of daring, but to the Chinese, daring must equate to success. Risk taking isn’t enough.
“To Chinese consumers, to dare is important, but you have to be a success,” Liu said.
In a move you would never expect from Cadillac in the United States, the brand actually plays upon the fact its the official vehicle for U.S. presidents. At a time when politics are more polarizing than ever, the Chinese still view the U.S. president as the ultimate celebrity. The brand ran a social media campaign showing the first Cadillac used for a U.S. president in 1918 and even circulated a photo of President Donald Trump with a 1976 Cadillac showing his initials on the license plates.
The Chinese reacted overwhelmingly positive to the campaign, despite some of President Trump’s harsh words regarding the country.
The brand also paints itself as a technological pioneer, stemming from its invention of the first heads-up display in a car in the 1970s. Liu said the technology aspect helps paint the brand as a modern vehicle, rather than an archaic one selling land yachts.
All of it comes to a head with the brand’s product placement. In China, product placement is a big deal, and Cadillac hasn’t sat out of the realm. Cadillac does 10 Chinese television series a year, placing vehicles in the show. It also drops its products into the nation’s biggest film releases for even greater exposure.
It shows a serious shift in how the U.S. market and Chinese market view the brand and how to target each group of consumers differently. But, in the world’s largest automotive market, there’s no room for failure in China.