Where The Stars (And Cars) Shine: Digging Deeper Into Cadillac’s Latest ‘Dare Greatly’ Oscars Ads14
The 89th Oscars have come and gone, but Cadillac made quite a splash it hopes will continue to resonate long after the red carpet is rolled back up. Ahead of the awards night, Cadillac debuted four new ad spots that would infiltrate television sets across millions of viewers worldwide. And, following these ads, it was clear a marketing tone shift had occurred.
We spoke with Cadillac Brand Marketing Director, Melody Lee, to unearth some additional insight behind the brand’s latest ad blitz and why The Oscars are so important to Cadillac.
GM Authority: Why are The Oscars so important to Cadillac versus presenting the brand in a Super Bowl ad? Is there a certain demographic you’re really trying to reach?
Melody Lee: Yeah, absolutely. We refer to the Oscars as the Super Bowl of pop culture, and after the Super Bowl, it’s the second largest live viewing audience. Which is, obviously in this day and age with time shifting on television, really important for us to capture.
It’s also, in terms of demographics, absolutely the right one. In particular, The Oscars over indexes on women a little bit. We do like being able to reach a female audience because they’re making so many decisions around car buying. So, to put our brand right in the middle of a viewing experience that’s really important to them (women) is huge.
It (The Oscars) actually has a very balanced demographic for generations X, Y and Boomers, so we like the fact we can reach several generations and it has appeal across each of them. We really like the idea of being at the center of that, so that’s why we’re in our fourth year of sponsoring The Oscars.
GMA: These latest spots definitely shift the tone of “Dare Greatly” overall. They’re very product centric save for the “Carry” ad. What were the goals with this round of big ads? Whether they are branding, buzz et cetera.
ML: What we really wanted to do this year is put the spotlight back on the brand. And not just on the brand and its history and heritage of innovation and looking forward, but also on our great products. Because, as an enthusiast, you know Cadillac is making some extraordinary, world-beating products right now. We’re trying to build the relevance of the brand in order for people to come to realize and get into our cars so they can experience just how good they are.
Essentially this year’s goal was to tell the Cadillac brand story through the products that we offer. And that’s how “Pioneers” came to be. It was really important to us as well that we also tie into historical relevance. You can get stuck always looking backward and I think you see this in the commentary on a lot of the articles you publish about Cadillac; people love to reminisce about our past because it is so rich. I think the thing that really stands out about Cadillac’s past and heritage is that it’s a brand that’s always looked forward. It’s always been about the future.
So, we wanted to give a nod to that rich historical past, really celebrate the great product we have today and the fact that the best is yet it come. Because that’s the American spirit of optimism that Cadillac embodies right there: Always looking forward, always looking towards the future. That’s how this whole suite of work came to be. It’s all about daring and what drives the world forward.
GMA: Showing a vehicle consumers can’t buy is an interesting tactic with the Escala. How important was it to advertise that concept car as the direction forward for Cadillac?
ML: It was very important to us that we show the car that is the inspiration and the design direction for our future line of products that are coming. In a year when we have no product launches and we’re trying to lay the foundation for when they all do eventually come out in 2018 and beyond, we need to show the world we’re thinking in a very future forward way with really interesting proportions, exterior design, really interesting materials for interior design. And then from a technological standpoint, cutting edge technologies like an OLED display in the Cadillac Escala.
It is a symbol of how we’re really pushing the envelope and thinking in truly innovative ways for the future. So, it was important for us to make a statement with “Pedestal” to say, “Even though this car may not be in a showroom today, we are going to continue to push this brand as far as we can to the edge for our consumers.”
Hopefully, it has that intended effect of driving traffic into showrooms today, and when people walk in, I’m confident that they’ll see products that are really amazing and surprise them in the best way. In that sense, that’s the goal for “Pedestal.”
GMA: Why a separate spot just for the CTS-V? It’s kind of a car you think would sell itself because that’s a niche consumer looking for a sport sedan rather than a regular sedan or crossover. Does Cadillac view the CTS-V as a “hero” vehicle so to speak?
ML: Yeah, absolutely. It is very much a hero or halo vehicle for us because when we talk about brand essence, we refer to it as passion. And we believe it’s a very emotive essence. This is what we want people to feel about the brand, the products and when they drive them or even when they just think about the brand itself.
CTS-V, in many respects, is the embodiment of passion. There are so many things about the car you would think are not necessary. Why does it need to go 200 mph? Why does it need 640 hp? And that’s what that spot answers. Why? Why would you do this? And the payoff is you can build a car, or you can build a Cadillac.
There’s a little bit of a play on people using the word “Cadillac” to describe the best of anything, right? People will say it’s the Cadillac of refrigerators, baby strollers, insurance plans, you name it. We’re sort of playing off that notion of Cadillac being the absolute best and CTS-V is really the most passion sparking, superlative vehicle we have in our lineup. It’s absolutely hero or halo advertising.
GMA: How do “Carry”, “CTS-V”, “Pioneers” and “Pedestal” weave the idea of “driving the world forward”?
ML: We were really intent on making sure this body of work came together and the thematic that drives through all four ads is the sub-tagline of, “Only those who dare drive the world forward.” It is a little bit of a finer point on “Dare Greatly”. It’s really helped us shape the four spots that will air during The Oscars.
With “Carry“, it is an expression of how we move the world forward together. It’s all about a celebration of the American values that have always made us so great. “Pioneers” is an expression of how we move the brand forward while celebrating our past. “Pedestal” is how we move forward in our vehicles and “CTS-V” is sort of the coda on the suite of work to emphasize that our products are already there today in many ways. I think it’s worth emphasizing that moving forward theme blends through everything.
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I hate to be negative but GM must mandate classes like Hyperbolic Language 101 to all their employees.
Melody is only slightly less over-the-top than Uwe and JdN in her effusive hype. Her words: “Even though this car may not be in a showroom today, we are going to continue to push this brand as far as we can to the edge for our consumers.”
Continue to? Continue to push? Continue to push the brand as far as we can to the edge…” Really? I haven’t seen anything from this brand that pushed the boundaries for at least 35 years and certainly nothing that pushed anything “to the edge”. It is not daring, not daring at all, to glitz up a Chevy Tahoe or re-body a FWD Buick LaCrosse or drop a brutal OHV Corvette engine into the CTS sedan. It isn’t daring to take apart a BMW and copy it. Rather that’s how “luxury” is built on the cheap. Raid a parts bin, cobble something together or mimic somebody else’s work and hype it as if it’s original or world class.
I challenge you, Cadillac. Go out and actually dare. You used to know how to do it. You used to do things no one else dared to do and you became the object of affection for a nation, a beacon for strivers and a national symbol of the attainment of our individual dreams. You were the capstone. I challenge you to be less hype and more reality. I challenge you to live up to your reputation instead of continuing to try to live off of it.
A company that doesn’t dare pours over sales charts and peers over the shoulders of competitors to determine their next move. A company that dares ignores all that, charts their own course and disrupts established thinking. Cadillac, if you are going to proclaim loudly that you dare, then do it: Dare Greatly.
Cadillac is doing a great job! It sells better than Lincoln. And it is a North American brand.
I agree. Copying the competition isn’t “daring greatly.” It’s also not very “daring” pumping out a bunch of crossovers and SUVs. It’s great for sales, yes, but it’s not daring. Introducing a new Eldorado, bringing the Escala to production or making a supercar would be daring, as you wouldn’t be playing it safe. Playing it safe is NOT daring. The whole CT/XT naming scheme isn’t daring, either! “Oooh, let’s copy EVERY OTHER LUXURY AUTOMAKER!” Personally I think “Dare Greatly” is a horrible slogan, as you’re basically lying to everyone. Lincoln was actually “daring greatly” by bringing back the Continental, and hey, it’s $10k cheaper than the CT6.
Oh, and by the way, ditch the Super Bowl and Oscars crap. Ratings for both are way down and they will continue their decline. Political correctness and the existence of the internet will guarantee that. If you want your products to be associated with rich NFL players who refuse to stand for the pledge of allegiance or rich virtue signalling celebrities who think they’re better than everyone else, you be my guest. And cable’s just dying anyway. I don’t even have cable. It’s 99% crap. I don’t miss it! YouTube now gets more than ONE BILLION views per day. Advertise there. Partner with popular YouTubers to promote your products. You’ll reach millions of people. Give someone like “Saabkyle04” an exclusive first drive of an upcoming product (but don’t sponsor a review). If you truly want to appeal to younger buyers, you need to ditch the ancient television and media platforms. They’re dinosaurs. Advertise on social media platforms and YouTube. Hell, advertise on Xbox and PlayStation. But most importantly, make products that would actually interest them!
I know it sounds like I’m taking a huge dump on Cadillac here, but in reality I actually like the company and I want them to succeed! This is tough love!
I agree very much with your last paragraph. Nobody wants Cadillac to win more than I do. I know my comments also might sound like I dislike the company. I don’t. Quite the contrary but they need to stop believing their own hype and reignite the passion that made them The Standard of the World for a time.
Companies that dare go out there and build something entirely unconventional and turn the world upside down. They make the competition chase them. Cadillac has shown us with Sixteen and Cien, Ciel, Elmarij, and Escala that they know how to build a modern Cadillac that imitates nobody. They clearly know how to reinterpret the classic Cadillac formula for a modern age but they steadfastly refuse to produce those cars and instead are content to nip at the heals of BMW with a lineup of Bavarian clones. That’s not daring and it isn’t pushing oneself “to the edge”.
Thinking out loud here: Would people consider it daring if they stole a page from the Ford GT playbook and made a not mass-produced, Escala-based large flagship? Would that shorten the development time? Very limited production sure wouldn’t hurt the asking price.
I still think the ads fit the oscars audience well, in spite of how the left has lost people. I also enjoy youtube reviewers, the foreign ones too. It could help a model such as the ATS to have lots of visibility there. Though I don’t expect women looking for a smallish crossover hinge on a savage geese review.
Camaroguy, I agree strongly with your first paragraph. I’ve actually never understood the “Dare Greatly” thing – who is supposed to “Dare Greatly”, Cadillac or the buyer of Cadillacs? It all smacks of typical Melody Lee, who is known to be a big fan of Apple, as she seems to be copying the old “Think Different” campaign from Apple. And clearly Cadillac is not “daring greatly”, when they just want to copy BMW on everything except exterior styling.
I don’t have any interest in watching the Oscars, but I do watch the Super Bowl. I’m pretty sure Cadillac didn’t advertise in the recent SB though (there were a lot of ads for Alfa Romeo). It’s probably not a bad idea to advertise on both, since the normal crossover audience for the Super Bowl and Oscars is probably zero. The only people who would watch both the Oscars and the Super Bowl are probably spouses/significant others who get dragged into watching one or the other, against their normal inclinations. So it’s not really a bad idea to advertise on both, too bad Cadillac under Melody Lee prefers to advertise only at the Oscars.
As far as “Dare Greatly”, it’s never been a great slogan, and it’s long in the tooth now. Melody Lee is probably the most useless person at GM, but I have to admire her ability to get great pay and perks for herself, all while delivering absolutely no value to the company.
No offense, but please sit down somewhere and be quiet. Cadillac IS daring. You’re completely ignoring the fact that this is a business. R&D, budgets, salaries, etc. all have to be accounted for. Sharing platforms and engines doesn’t make you less of anything. It’s makes for an intelligent business case and how the global automotive business works, regardless of brand.
In my household are a new CT6 Platinum, Escalade ESV Premium and CTS-V (just like the one in ad spot) and they are all amazing! I could really educate you here based on actual ownership and Cadillac products that I experience daily. That’s how you create real-world opinions, not ones based on reading or conversations with others.
I challenge you to do your research on how many luxury car brands, including ultra-luxury brands, share platforms and engines, even with their downmarket corporate cousins/partners. I challenge you to actually purchase, experience and own a Cadillac so that you may speak of actual experiences, rather that automotive journalism speak. Finally, I challenge you to give credit where credit is due. Cadillac is really making world-class cars and SUVs. I’ve been driving Cadillac’s for 20 years, so I know how far they’ve come. I can hardly contain myself thinking about what’s to come!
Thanks for your perspective and I’m glad you’re happy with your Cadillacs but I believe there is way more out there for Cadillac than they are achieving now. I believe the world is waiting for them to get their act together.
I believe America, and perhaps the world, is growing tired of the tyranny of the German luxury sedan (and I own one) and I believe Mercedes in particular has greatly diminished their prestige in recent years by over-saturating the market with products that anybody with $349. a month can lease. The market is ripe for a Cadillac comeback where the brand is once again revered as the pinnacle of luxury. But in order for Cadillac to seize the moment I believe they need to be more imaginative and daring and far more original.
I’m on record as saying I’m impressed by the novel structure and excellent proportions of the CT-6. It is a big step forward and a beautiful car. I am also on record as saying that despite being merely a gilded Tahoe, I think the Escalade is in many ways a model for the brand. It has the most authentic Cadillac persona in the lineup. It is big, brash, flamboyant and attention seeking. It’s the antithesis of the euro-bland Cadillacs of a few short years ago like the last generation STS and unsurprisingly, it’s the one model that sells itself. I think that’s because it’s an original.
No doubt Cadillac has made some progress and I applaud them for it but I also think they are on the wrong path. Self-made men and women don’t imitate; they originate and if Cadillac wants to be the brand for those who risk it all, it might be wise to take a few risks themselves.
Are you two having a duel at dawn?
I think we’re all impressed with your stable of Cadillacs, Mrs. Brown, and your penchant for issuing challenges is very continental.
But just three words of advice …
Nice interview, GM Authority. I for one appreciate Miss Lee taking the time to speak with you/us. Sounds like she knows her stuff. I hope she knows great cars too because while I think Ci2Eye is not being completely fair, he isn’t to far off the mark. I understand his frustration because I don’t think GM and there management are anywhere near as passionate about cars as they are about making money and it shows.
It’s simple, when you have nothing to sell, you sell vaporware…
Thank you WCBrown for saying what I know. I read buff car magazines. I am tired of them all of a sudden tearing down the Cadillacs. After winning a road test against 3 other cars now the CTSV is not the belle of the ball. All I have to see is a Cadillac coming towards me and I know which brand it is. They are exceptional automobiles. Are the interiors that weak? I sat in them at the auto show and they were nice. The escala is the most beautiful automobile around. It blows away all the European,makes. Kills the Tesla. Cadillac will build it’s signature large car and it will have many cues from the escala. They will do it with realistic costs and bean counting methods. Just saw a very short video of Cadillacs super cruise technology. Also a plugin CT6. Plus I’ll take a CTS V coupe from a few years back. And a CTS V Wagon with the v8 and 6 speed manual transmission. These are exceptional autos that are very unique and unlike any cars ever built.
The very fact Cadillac will not be bringing the Escala concept car to production means that the company itself is not willing to ‘Dare Greatly’ and could translate to a very sluggish recovery using this marketing approach.
Ok, I know this has nothing to do with article or the commercial,”Pioneers: Cadillac 2017 Oscars Commercial (:60)” but I am in a heavy debate with my son as to what the name of the driving model (long blond hair). Is there any way we can find her name? There is a bet in the balance and I just hate looking!
Thanks for assisting.
Oh by the way, good article and have never owned a Cadillac but would be willing to do a test drive?