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Cadillac brooms out its ad agency

Posted by: David Welch on June 25, 2010


Not even two months into the job, General Motors Co. marketing Vice President Joel Ewanick is already shaking things up. Adweek reported that he has replaced Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty as Cadillac’s advertising agency after six months with the account, handing the estimated $250 million in business to Fallon.
It’s not a big surprise. Ewanick is known for moving quickly and any new marketing chief will want to bring in his own people and favored agencies. Last month, he brought in San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein and Partners for the Chevrolet account, replacing Paris-based Publicis after just a few weeks. Publicis had been hired by GM before Ewanick arrived to replace Campbell Ewald, which did Chevy’s advertising for decades.
Even before Ewanick arrived, GM wasn’t blown away by some of the Cadillac work done by BBH. The company asked for changes several times, says one person with direct knowledge of Cadillac’s advertising. Cadillac wants ads that focus more on the cars and have less emphasis on sizzle and sophisticated graphics, the source said.
Expect more changes to come. Two people close to GM’s marketing operations say Ewanick wants to bring in some outside marketing talent to add some brain power to GM’s ranks. Given the company’s woeful marketing efforts in recent years and its brand-image challenges, it could be just what the company needs. The company’s brands have lurched from one marketing message to another for a decade, with a revolving door of marketing bosses to keep the churn going. Cadillac, for example, has had three marketing heads in a year.
And make no mistake, Cadillac is a big marketing challenge. Last year’s sales were the worst since 1953, albeit in a woeful car market. The brand ranked eighth among 12 luxury car brands in the Luxury Institute’s 2009 survey of people making more than $150,000 a year. Only one-third of respondents said the brand is worth paying a premium to buy, compared with 57% for BMW and 62% for Mercedes. At 62 years old, the average buyer is 13 years older than a BMW buyer. That’s a long way of saying that the brand isn’t hip. Cadillac has some strong models with the CTS sedan and new SRX SUV. But GM needs to get the core of the luxury consumers to check out the new, aggressively-styled and sporty models that are the antithesis of the brand’s old geezer image. Now it’s up to Ewanick and Fallon to get luxury buyers to give those cars a look.

Reader Comments

Gene Russell

June 28, 2010 11:41 AM

While GM tries to run away from the fastest growing popluation group - "old geezers" everyone else is trying to figure out how to address this diverse group. Maybe Cadillac needs to figure out why "Seniors" have been turning away from the brand, rather than courting the 35 to 55 year old segments.


June 28, 2010 9:01 PM

GM needs to drop ALL their current brand names, come up with new names & and redesign all their products to be more Asian like. The Asians are taking over the auto biz and zigging while Asia is Zagging is a mistake. Ford took a good selling vehicle (Taurus), redesigned it American style and it fell off the map. When will Detroit realize that it's okay to assimilate?


July 19, 2010 1:17 PM

I think it's more than marketing, right now GM had two luxury brands Buick and Cadillac. If you ask me the new Buick's are a lot better looking than the new Caddy's. Who is telling them the sharp angular Caddy's are attractive? Personally I believe a backlash is coming at the tunnel vision on performance luxury automobiles have taken. I don't know about you but I'm getting tired of the gray-haired geezer in the Mercedes constantly in my rear-view mirror - back off buddy.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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