Lance Jensen Talks Cadillac and Where It’s Taking American Luxury

Inside Rogue's two new CTS ads

IDEA: What is American luxury these days? Cadillac teams with an old collaborator, Lance Jensen, as it tries to answer that question creatively in its first work from Rogue, the Interpublic Group team of Hill Holliday and Lowe Campbell Ewald.

Two new spots for the CTS sedan suggest it's more attainable than ever—and certainly just as patriotic. "You can't out-German the Germans or out-Japanese the Japanese," said Jensen, the Hill Holliday chief creative officer who shepherded Cadillac at now-defunct Modernista between 2006 and 2009. "American ingenuity, American spirit, American attitude—it all plays into our idea of the Cadillac brand."

The CTS spots celebrate that attitude explicitly. One looks back at famous American businesses that began in garages; the other features an old NASA recording as it talks about shooting for the moon. It's the beginning of a more evocative, emotional pitch for Cadillac.

"The brand is growing, and most of it is product-driven," said client spokesman David Caldwell. "We're trying to take that and not just be declarative about it. We want to connect to the more emotional, personality-driven characteristics we know are in the brand. It's putting the two together."

COPYWRITING: "I think their strength is their incredible simplicity. They just needed to be done elegantly," Jensen said of "Garages" and "Moon."

The former shows garages of all shapes and sizes, as a voiceover explains: "The Wright Brothers started in a garage. Amazon started in a garage. Hewlett-Packard and Disney both started in garages. Mattel started in a garage. The Ramones started in a garage." Then, a CTS is seen zooming out of its own giant stone bunker. "My point?" says the VO. "You never know what kind of greatness can come out of an American garage. Introducing the 2014 Motor Trend Car of the Year. The all-new Cadillac CTS. Ain't garages great?"

"Moon" is even simpler. A father, with his son in the back, drives a CTS down dark roads at night as a giant moon rises on the horizon. "A funny thing happens when you shoot for the moon. You get there," says the voiceover. Both spots close with the Cadillac logo. There is no tagline.

"The 'Garages' spot is the American dream in 30 seconds, and it's all true," said Jensen, adding that it should appeal nicely to Cadillac's target—optimists with a "bigness of spirit." The copy in "Moon," he said, refers to both product and consumer—the engineering of the vehicles and the lofty ambitions of its target.

FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Station Film's Dom & Nic shot "Garages." RESET's Garth Davis did "Moon." "There are really nice productions values. The car shoots well. The angles are great. They're simple and clean and not trying too hard," Jensen said of the visual look.

The shot of the moon is particularly striking. "We wanted it to look like magical realism," he said. "That's part of the reason we have a kid in the car. A kid can see things differently than us jaded old guys. The moon is a magical thing when you're young. It's supposed to be a beautiful, almost transcendent moment."

TALENT: Casting for "Moon" wasn't overly complex. "We just wanted a cool guy and a good-looking kid with some presence. He's quite mature for a little dude," Jensen said.

The actor Neal McDonough does the voiceover on both ads. "I wanted something clean and flexible, with confidence and a little bit of authority in there," Jensen said.

SOUND: The soundtrack on "Moon" is the lush, echoey "Stars" by Ulrich Schnauss. "I've liked that song for a long time. It felt good, like it would get you someplace," said Jensen. The song in "Garages" is "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio" by the Ramones.

MEDIA: Mostly A-list properties in prime time, cable news and sports.

THE SPOTS:

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