Cadillac Focuses on Escalade

Cadillac will put half of its $200 million advertising budget behind the launch of the redesigned 2002 Escalade, hoping the sport utility vehicle can boost the image of the entire General Motors division, Cadillac executives said.

The Escalade is seen by Caddy executives as an “image catalyst,” and the new campaign from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles offers an attitude different from anything Cadillac has done, said Kim Kosak, Cadillac’s director of advertising and promotions.

Research indicates that prospective buyers of the Escalade are intrigued by technology, so the launch plan features several non-traditional elements, including a DVD-ROM game and sweepstakes. The DVD-ROM will be sent directly to prospective buyers and is available through cadillac.com.

An outdoor campaign in 14 markets directs drivers to tune to “Radio Cadillac,” an actual frequency which broadcasts spoof vignettes with references to the Escalade. Transmitters on or near the billboards carry the signal for about a four-mile radius.

A TV spot titled “Cones,” which will air in 60- and 30-second versions, breaks April 7 during the Masters Tournament on CBS. The spots use computer-generated imaging and is set in a futuristic city, said Martin Macdonald, Cadillac group creative director at the Troy, Mich., agency.

A voiceover asks, “Does it sometimes feel as if life’s obstacles come after you?” as orange traffic cones rise up and become missiles that pursue the vehicle. But the cones eventually strike a building, and the woman driving the Escalade manages to evade the onslaught. Then the cones come together to form a “cone monster,” which continues the pursuit, leading to more action. The spot ends with the line, “Escalade makes obstacles obsolete,” before closing with the Cadillac wreath and crest.

The 60-second version will also be seen on movie screens in 2,600 theaters beginning April 20. Print ads will take a dominant location, including inside front and back covers, in a limited number of publications, Kosak said.

Last year, Cadillac spent about $35 million on Escalade, according to Competitive Media Reporting.