Expect Cadillac marketing to take a more emotional, “story-telling” angle with the hiring of Rogue as the luxury brand’s new advertising agency, executive Bob Ferguson says, claiming the approach will connect with buyers who enjoy luxury but still shop warehouse stores.
“Cadillac should be a destination brand, a brand people aspire to,” Ferguson tells WardsAuto on the sidelines of a marketing event here. “With the credibility of our new product, it is the appropriate time to put some emotion back into the brand. To do that will require injecting some story-telling.”
last week hired Rogue, a consortium of advertising agencies from industry-giant Interpublic Group combining elements of Lowe, Campbell-Ewald and Hill Holliday. Cadillac formerly used Fallon but believes Rogue can better execute an international advertising strategy as the brand muscles into Asia, Europe and the Middle East in the coming years.
Hill Holliday will serve as the lead agency. Its creative director, Lance Jensen, has crafted previous Cadillac ads such as the CTS commercial with actress Kate Walsh steamily asking, “When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?”
Ferguson says new advertising content will draw on the brand’s heritage, but avoid nostalgia.
“It is a story that differentiates us from the European or Japanese competitor,” he says. “You’ll see us fully embracing our heritage but not in a way that says those were the great old days. It will say those were great days; we have even better days ahead.”
Ferguson also says pricing released last week for the ’14 Cadillac CTS, on sale this fall, reflects the redesigned sedan’s new clout against competitors such as the5-Series and Mercedes E-Class, despite undercutting those rivals by as much as $4,000.
The next-generation CTS will start at $46,025, but the current model sells for $39,095, he says, which means “CTS is moving up significantly in price. We’re moving CTS up to be competitive from a performance, styling and pricing (perspective).”
Ferguson does not shy away from calling the CTS a value, saying its target customer is a self-made achiever who “buys luxury but still shops at Costco” to save a buck.
“People shop brand and performance in luxury, but most everyone has an equation that asks if this is a good use of my dollars,” he says. “Even if you are buying a highly expensive sports car, you want to feel there is value.”
Important lease offers will come closer to the sedan’s launch, when third-party evaluators stamp it with a residual value.
Cadillac’s global marketing director also expands on remarks he made last week to Wall Street analysts about the next-generation Cadillac Escalade large SUV coming to market early next year. The analysts were given a sneak peek at the luxury truck, known for its bling but shifting to a more artistic design with the next iteration.
“The interior of the new one is so cool,” he says, claiming Americans still desire the $70,000 SUV in a new era of rational spending following the recession. “It’s selling at a highest-ever transaction price and historically low incentives. We can sell all we make. It just keeps on going. For our customers and investors, the Escalade is a home run.”
Escalade sales through May were up 19.9% to 4,642 units, according to WardsAuto data, making it the second-best seller in its segment behind the all-new Infiniti QX56. Deliveries last year climbed 21.0% to 12,615. The SUV’s best year was 2006, the last time it was redesigned, when it sold 39,017 copies.
Speaking to 400 members of the Adcraft Club of Detroit, Ferguson has some kind words for cross-town rival Lincoln.has set the brand on a similar path back to luxury relevancy that Cadillac began following a decade ago.
“I’m rooting for Lincoln,” he says of a brand that GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson advised sprinkling holy water on last year because it had fallen so far.
“Their success helps our success,” Ferguson says. ‘We need to stake out quality and leadership in American luxury. Nothing would be more satisfying than when people talk about luxury vehicles that they mention Lincoln and Cadillac right at the top. I wish (Lincoln) the best, just not too much.”