My favorite car campaigns of all time were Doyle Dane's Volkswagen, Ammirati's BMW, and Scali's Volvo.
These 3 campaigns had one thing in common: They didn't try to tell me who I was, they told me who they were. They told me why their product was great, and in so doing, created great brands.
They understood that the best way to build most brands is with product-focused advertising.
Which leads us to Cadillac's new campaign. You can read all about it here. As you probably know, Cadillac changes campaigns more enthusiastically than Bruce Jenner changes sexes.
Supposedly, this new campaign is not a campaign, it's a re-branding. Well, technically, according Cadillac's CMO, it's not a re-branding either. It's a "re-invention."
What is a "re-invention," you ask? As far as I can tell, it's exactly like a re-branding, only way more expensive.
First, Cadillac is moving its headquarters to New York City's Soho area. How cool is that?
I guess some people from Detroit think of this as the height of hipness. To a lot of New Yorkers, Soho is where you go to admire Korean tourists. On the other hand, if I was the CMO of Cadillac, I wouldn't mind having breakfast every morning at Balthazar either.
Next, Cadillac is "tapping into the Millennial mindset." Of course, you can't do anything in marketing these days without invoking the M word. Just one little problem. Last I looked, Millennials were buying about 12% of new cars and about 0% of Cadillacs.
But maybe it's just their "mindset" he's targeting. This could be problematic because mindsets often have trouble getting car loans.
I don't really care much for the campaign. It's called "Dare Greatly." It feels like an ad school version of "Think Different."
One problem with the campaign is the problem with so much advertising these days. It's full of lofty thoughts and is devoid of persuasion.
Another problem is in the imagery. The CMO seems to be so enchanted with Soho that in addition to moving there, he also shot the spots there. When Chrysler shot in Detroit, they "dared greatly." But leaning on the imagery of Soho seems to me like daring tentatively.
A third problem is that the execution doesn't match the strategy. "Dare greatly" is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt and and his boys were called the "Rough Riders." They were famous for a brave charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.
But this campaign is very fey and artsy. It features some people we're supposed to admire for following Roosevelt's dictum. I have serious doubts that the Rough Riders would consider fashion design "daring greatly." Their idea of daring greatly was getting up on a horse and shooting something.
One of the people featured in the campaign is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who I actually do admire. Only problem is he looks more like he swallowed a Cadillac than drives one.
Which leads me to a little poem..
Some ads are merely regrettable“Luxury brands don’t sell products, they sell dreams,” says Cadillac's CMO. Yeah, maybe. But car dealers sell products. And when they don't, CMOs have very bad dreams.
And some are completely incredible
I can't see Steve Wozniak
Buying a Cadillac
Unless the damn thing was edible
The Cadillac re-invention needs to arrive very quickly at advertising that persuasively extols the exceptional qualities of the product -- not the purported mindset of Millennials.
Otherwise they may find they have dared greatly and failed miserably.