Scotty Posted March 22, 2005 Report Share Posted March 22, 2005 With air of cool, Cadillac becomes one hot product Mon Mar 21, 6:45 AM ET By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY Cadillac is cool again. The joke used to be that Cadillac's owners ranged in age from "65 to dead." But the Escalade luxury sport-utility vehicle is making General Motors' luxury nameplate a brand of choice for youthful Hollywood celebrities, jocks and rappers. Shaquille O'Neal, Calista Flockhart and Adam Sandler own Escalades - nicknamed "The Slade" in the hip-hop world. Rapper Snoop Dogg has talked about launching his own line of $80,000 "Snoop DeVilles," featuring mink-covered seats, TV sets and DVD players. Jennifer Lopez doesn't sing about Lexus in Love Don't Cost a Thing- her new lover rolls up in an Escalade. The buzz around Cadillac shows how a hot product, smart marketing and a dash of luck can give an old-school brand new life with a new generation. Decades before Lexus or Acura, Cadillac was the gold standard for American presidents, movie stars and titans of industry. But the 102-year-old brand fell on hard times in the 1980s and 1990s. The rollout of the Escalade three years ago enabled it to make a stylish splash in the world of $50,000-plus luxury SUVs. Ads by Chemistri in Troy, Mich., use Led Zeppelin to give a rock 'n' roll edge to the brand. But it was the unexpected embrace of Cadillac by pop culture icons that gave it the kind of buzz money can't buy. "They have done a great job muscling up their cars - and giving them a harder edge," says Tom Julian, trends analyst for Fallon Worldwide. "When I'm in Los Angeles, I see the young sexy women, the athletes and the yuppie power agents all getting out of their Escalades." But what pop culture gives, it can also take away. Cadillac's worst mistake would be to clumsily exploit its newfound chic with the beautiful people, Julian warns. Auto ads typically score below average with consumers in Ad Track, USA TODAY's weekly poll. Of those familiar with the ads, 17% like them "a lot," vs. the Ad Track survey average of 21%. And 17% "dislike" the ads, above the survey average of 13%. But a deeper dive turns up better numbers for Cadillac. The ads score best in likability, at 24%, with consumers in the income bracket of $75,000-plus. And 31% of 18-24 year olds and 25% of 30-39 year olds like the ads "a lot." That's good news for Cadillac's effort to attract younger affluent buyers, says Jay Spenchian, chief marketing officer. The luxury brand traditionally targets consumers ages 35 to 55, with a household income of $125,000 or more. Since 2000, the average buyer's age has dropped from 64 to 57. "Younger consumers see the brand as it is today. They don't carry the baggage of the 1970s and 1980s," Spenchian says. As they say in Detroit, Caddy is "moving the iron." Sales rose 8% to 234,217 in 2004, its third growth year in a row. It's sold 30,494 in 2005 through February. Is Cadillac's new rep as a king of bling-bling turning off longtime customers? Spenchian says he hears the opposite from owners. "They want us to be contemporary, they want us to lead the pack." Cadillac is being careful with movie placements - including supporting roles in The Matrix Reloaded and John Travolta's Be Cool- so as not to overexpose itself. Notes Spenchian: "Cool just kind of happens. The best thing you can do is just try to ride the wave. As soon as you try to be cool, it goes away." Early on sailors navigated by the stars at night and the North star became the symbol for finding ones way home. Once you know where the Northstar is you can point your ship in the right direction to get home. So the star became a symbol for finding ones way home or more symbolically even finding ones path in life. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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