Cadillac Launches New ATS Ads

Online film before Olympics TV

In its latest move to take on the ultimate driving machine, Cadillac is launching the first advertising in support of its new ATS model's entry into the compact luxury segment, an area that has been dominated by BMW for three decades.

The 2013 ATS, Cadillac’s first new small car in more than 20 years, is positioned against foreign luxury models like the BMW 3 Series. The car will be initially available in the U.S. in late August but will be an important offering in Cadillac’s global expansion in Asia and the Middle East. 

“The significance of this challenge is not small. It’s a segment that’s very tough to break into but is so important because it’s the entry point for new luxury buyers,” said Molly Peck, director of advertising and sales promotion at Cadillac.

In new work from Fallon, Cadillac puts an extreme twist on the winding-road product demos typical in automotive advertising. Today, Cadillac debuts a two-minute You Tube film "Cadillac ATS vs. the World,” which tests the car’s agility and driving performance in the deserts of Morocco and Formula One streets of Monaco, China’s Guoliang Tunnels and Patagonia in Chile, one of the windiest spots on the planet.

Sixty- and 30- second TV spots will bow during the opening ceremony of the London Olympic Games on July 27, with the commercials airing throughout the fall and accompanied by print. The campaign uses more than 40 ads and online video shorts.

“ ‘Fun to drive’ is a top driver consideration in this category and that’s enormously difficult to communicate in an ad,” Peck said. “So we took the idea of a spirited challenger and brought the car out into the world.”

The campaign includes short films, ads and photography directed by Joe Berlinger, whose documentary Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory was nominated for an Academy Award and automotive photographer and filmmaker Jeff Zwart. The spots aim for an unscripted feel: The driver navigating the tough roads is champion race driver Derek Hill, who is also the son of  Phil Hill, the only American to win the Formula One World Driving Championship. Hosting the series is actor and filmmaker Ross Thomas, whose interests in extreme sports and adventure traveling are in sync with the dramatic driving conditions in the campaign.

In Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, the ATS takes 100 corners over the course of three miles through the ups and downs of the terrain. In Monte Carlo, shots for ATS vs. the World were actually filmed in May during the Monaco Grand Prix. In China, meanwhile, the car is put through its paces in the Guoliang Tunnel, a hand-carved space measuring three quarters of a mile long, 16 feet tall and 13 feet wide. Because of that remote location, cameras were mounted on remote-controlled helicopters for some of the images.

“What you see in the spots is a lot of ad-libbing. What we really set out to do is capture the essence of the car, the fact that it is a nimble, quick, fun vehicle,” according to Peck.

Cadillac began ATS social initiatives last fall, reaching out to bloggers and car enthusiasts and last week, to more mainstream buyers on Facebook. The ATS is Cadillac’s second launch this summer, following the XTS, similar in size to the BMW 7 Series, which hit showrooms in June.