The other day, while reading The New York Times, I noticed a new full-page advertisement from Cadillac. As seen in the picture below, the ad is very simple with respect to text, imagery, color and layout. The focal point of the ad is an excerpt from a speech Teddy Roosevelt once gave, which is titled, “The Man in the Arena.” Also shown in the ad is the Cadillac logo, the tag line “Dare Greatly” and a hashtag (#daregreatly). The ad is devoid of any imagery which pertains to Cadillac’s automobiles (odd?), as well as a website URL, email address, social media address(es) or handle(s), phone number, etc. After reading the ad, and giving it some thought, my curiosity was piqued and a number of questions and observations started to enter my mind.
First, to whom is this ad targeted? Consumers who already know Cadillac, consumers who do not know Cadillac, or both? If the consumer already knows who and what Cadillac is, why should they pay attention to this ad? Even if these consumers were in the market to buy a new car, how is this ad pulling them in to take the next step on the path to purchase? Why would they want to interact with the hashtag? If the consumer does not know who and what Cadillac is then, here too, the question could be asked, why go any further? What’s the motivation, incentive, reason to learn or interact more? To me, it does not seem as though enough pull is being exerted through the ad. Was this done on purpose and, if so, why? Does this make much sense?
Second, the only direct mechanism by which a consumer can respond or react to this ad is via a Twitter hashtag (#daregreatly). Is Cadillac purposely targeting a younger, tech-savvy audience? But, what about older individuals who happen to be just as tech-savvy and know what Twitter and hashtags are? Again, who’s the real audience here? And, why are there no other means by which to interact with the brand (i.e., URL address, email address, social media handles, etc.)? I’m now starting to wonder, what’s the real objective of the ad?
Third, to know how keen marketers are with respect to tracking responses and analyzing metrics to determine marketing ROI, how does Cadillac plan to measure this ad? Sure the company can see traffic on the hashtag page but, what if other ads are running the hashtag as well? How, with any real certainty, will the company know where the responses are coming from? Maybe the tens of thousands of dollars spent on this ad is a drop in the bucket compared to the entire campaign, so the company’s marketers simply might not care about ROI.
Fourth, in the bigger scheme of things, I’m asking myself, what’s really going here? Why has Cadillac published this ad? What does the “Dare Greatly” tagline mean or refer to? How does the quotation fit in? Why is there no mention or imagery of automobiles? Something’s up.
Yes, indeed, something is up. After doing a little research, I learned that this ad is part of a larger re-branding campaign that Cadillac has recently launched across a number of mediums (out-of-home, television, microsite). It appears as though Cadillac’s leadership has finally come to realize that it has been losing ground to the German luxury car manufacturers, and that its brand has lost meaning and relevance in the marketplace among consumers, young and old. So, to stem the tide, the company’s leadership has embarked on this campaign. From that perspective, this campaign makes a bit more sense, but not entirely. I still question to whom the campaign is targeted, what are the real objectives, what points are being tracked and measured, what the imagery really means and what the quotation really refers to, as well as the tag line? When it comes to branding in the automobile space, I immediately think of Rolls Royce, Bentley and Ferrari…through design, price points, craftsmanship, quality, materials, persona, mystique, etc., these companies have been able to forge brands that are as good as gold…can Cadillac do the same via this campaign and reclaim its past glory? Maybe, maybe not…only time will tell.