Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cadillac Hopes Catera Ads Can Revive Its Image

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cadillac Hopes Catera Ads Can Revive Its Image

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- Cadillac and its ad agency, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, are trying to convince baby boomers who like driving small, performance-oriented German-built luxury sedans that a newfangled Cadillac is really their dream car.

While the Cadillac Catera is itself a zippy, German-made luxury car with tight handling, it will be an uphill battle to convince 40- something buyers that they -- not their parents -- belong in a Cadillac showroom. But Cadillac plans to spend $50 million on advertising in the next three months to convince those buyers to trade in their BMWs, Lexuses and Infinitis for a Catera.

If the Catera succeeds, it might spawn an entire new generation of Cadillac buyers. If it fails, the Cadillac brand might fade away. If the Catera flops, "it is going to be difficult for GM to remain anywhere near a major luxury player," said Susan Jacobs, president of Jacobs & Associates, a strategic planning company in Rutherford, N.J. "They'll be relegated to a niche player" within a decade, she said. General Motors Corp. executives recognize the challenge. "Cadillac in many quarters still has a reputation of big, oversized cars that sort of float along the road," said Ronald Zarrella, a GM vice president who oversees the company's domestic marketing and sales efforts. "Perceptions die hard, and the marketing job is to try to change them. "Cadillac has a lot of baggage that we have to get over, and the way we are marketing the Catera recognizes the fact that we've got to get very different people into the Cadillac brand." Cadillac has built a car that is similar to those that appeal to the new breed of luxury buyer. Indeed it will be harder to tell the Catera apart from a Lexus ES300 or a Mercedes-Benz C-class than it would be from a Cadillac Fleetwood or DeVille. It costs about $30,000, about the same as most of its European and Japanese rivals. And it is meant to attract their buyers, not the retirees who now buy Cadillacs. The Catera is made in Germany by GM's Adam Opel AG unit. But now that Cadillac has built a car that many baby boomers might not mind driving, it faces the challenge of selling it. Cadillac and DMB&B, a unit of the MacManus Group based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., are pulling out all the stops. They created an irreverent mascot -- a red duck, of all things -- to represent the car. They worked up 30 separate ad campaigns with three commercials each, winnowed those down to 10, tested them with consumers and eventually settled on a lighthearted campaign featuring the duck. They have organized test drives in cities across the United States where potential buyers can drive the Catera as well as its competitors, and they invented a special Catera typeface. They even mailed 22,000 samples of Starbucks coffee and Vermont maple syrup to target customers, akin to an upscale cereal company trying to offer a complete meal. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.