By Barbara Lippert
D’Arcy remakes GM flagship
with art & science
By Tanya Irwin
“The Power of &,” a new Cadillac image campaign from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, is making grammarians a little uneasy, admits Jon Parkinson, D’Arcy senior vp and executive creative director on Cadillac brands.
It wasn’t the intention of the tagline, but it’s an added benefit, he claims, since the goal of the campaign, which debuted last month with two 30-second spots, is to dramatically reposition the Cadillac brand. Cadillac won’t disclose spending, but spent a total of $189 million in 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
While both print and TV ads feature images of cars, an emphasis was placed on “humanizing” the design and technology with friendly images, says Parkinson.
In the first spot, which broke Nov. 15, a man’s profile is followed by a woman in a modern wedding dress, standing in front of a moonlit sea. The white bars of a park bench in front of a field of red tulips form the stripes next to stars, as the voiceover explains: “The Power of &. It unifies man & woman. Joins stars & stripes. It’s the way two things together equal more than they total apart. Using the Power of &, Cadillac is combining design & technology in inspiring new ways. In each and every instance, Cadillac is fusing design & technology to create vehicles that truly transport you.”
One series of shots that appear in both the branding spots and an ad for the newly redesigned DeVille, which broke over the Thanksgiving weekend, show how a Cadillac driver uses the world’s first available “night vision” system to spot a deer in the road.
At the end of each commercial, the ampersand morphs into the recently restyled Cadillac wreath and crest logo. The logo colors are heavily emphasized throughout the spots, which feature red, yellow and blue-tinged visuals. The agency chose to use Velvia film stock from Fuji, says Claire Cavanagh, senior vice president and director of broadcast at D’Arcy, to produce more intense
Since last January, Cadillac has been “re-embracing its roots” as a design innovator with an internal emphasis on the company’s ability to merge art and science. So when Cadillac wanted an inclusive branding effort for all its models, many of which will be redesigned in the next few years, D’Arcy creatives turned naturally to the words “art and science.”
The idea for the tagline came to Parkinson as he was falling asleep. After thinking about the theme art and science for some time, he says, his mind zeroed in on the ampersand linking the two words.
When he presented it to the creative group the next day, you could see the light bulbs going on in their heads, he says. It didn’t take long for the team to generate examples of how the merging of two ideas or
entities can result in a sum “that’s greater than the two parts.”
All future campaigns for individual car lines will feature the new tagline and have the same kind of quick-cut imagery.
As for any discomfort with the new approach of the Cadillac ads, Parkinson hopes it will help shift consumers’ perceptions. “If they like the brand, then they’ll pick the product,” he says. K
D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles,
Executive Creative Director
Senior Art Director
Director of Broadcast
Bruce Dowad & Associates, Los Angeles
Director of Photography
Paul Bertino, King Cuts,
Schwab makes investors feel smart
I have never understood the age-old compulsion to use celebrities in advertising, other than to make us stop in shock at their sheer freakishness or bad acting.
In the former camp, the King of Shock himself, Michael Jackson, springs to mind. He never fails to get attention in any of his incarnations. As his portrait on the cover of last week’s TV Guide shows, he is still a crowd stopper, with a slightly updated image.
To his usual demonic-yet-elfin Judy Garland look, he has added the sparse, creepy facial hair of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. In a bid to be more natural and fatherly, he also appears to be laying off the lipstick.
You’ll remember that the King of Pop, as he likes to be known, starred in several Pepsi ads, including the one that famously seared his head.
BBDO, the Pepsi agency, is known for its ubiquitous, scorched earth use of celebrity. The agency apparently never met a campaign that couldn’t use a famous person–or six.
So when I heard about the BBDO campaign for Charles Schwab Investment Services, using contemporary sports stars, I thought it would be pretty cringe-worthy.
Who cares where yet another misguided football player or damaged tennis pro invests? It’s not as though they actually make their own financial decisions.
Still, this campaign is truly deft, delightful work, mostly because it’s smartly written and well-executed. The most recent in the series, the spot starring Olympic skier Picabo Street, began airing this month.
It’s got to be Street’s best work since Nike showed her in a wheelchair, her leg in a cast, breaking out of a rehab center in a four-wheel downhill run.
The Schwab spot also alludes to her famous accident. In it, Picabo, whose name is suddenly an echo of that other superstar, Pikachu, is shown lifting heroic amounts of weights while gabbing away to her trainer. “You know, people still ask me about the crash,” she says. “But it was really a market correction … 1929, that was a crash!”
She goes on, talking about
profit/earnings ratios, market caps, etc., and the whole commercial just flies by in a blaze of amazing muscle–human and financial. The tagline, possibly the longest since the 1890s, could constitute two bus lengths. But it’s also on the money: “When we created a smarter kind of investment firm, we created a smarter kind of investor.”
Another spot in the campaign uses football players Jason Sehorn and Shannon Sharp. Denver Bronco Sharpe is known for his trash talk, which he funnels into financial
put-downs. The commercial shows him spouting the best dis I’ve ever heard in the age of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? At one point, he screams to his opponent, “I bet you pay transaction fees on your mutual funds!” Face it: You can never come back from a verbal dig like that.
The third spot is also smart and funny, featuring tennis stars Mary Joe Fernandez and Anna Kournikova. Here, 18-year-old Anna fills the screen with her advanced financial musings to adolescent acolytes who couldn’t care less.
This one goes for the easy double entendre joke of the other girls on the circuit being jealous of her, you know, “portfolio.” But it works because both tennis players’ performances are so intelligent.
Schwab has also announced plans to advertise on the Super Bowl.
It will be refreshing, in our era of
dimness, to have work from a
financial-services firm that presents its clients as knowing users of complicated information–even if they are stars. K
CCO: Ted Sann
Sr. Executive CD
Creative Campaigns: A Brand