Caddy takes on world with ATS ad rollout
The ATS commercials are intended to show the sport sedan as "nimble, quick and fun to drive" under some of the world's most extreme road and conditions.
DETROIT -- General Motors is rolling out a documentary style advertising campaign today that will feature its new Cadillac ATS compact sport sedan twisting down switchback mountains in Morocco and cutting through the windswept plains of Patagonia.
Dubbed "Cadillac ATS vs. the World," the campaign is an effort to burnish the performance credentials of the ATS, which is Cadillac's first true compact sedan since it introduced the widely panned Cimarron in 1981.
Cadillac's crack at the compact luxury market, which is the largest luxury segment by volume globally, depends on drawing buyers who tend to seek performance -- and who tend to buy German cars such as the segment-leading BMW 3 series.
"It's an extraordinarily difficult crowd to break into," says Molly Peck, director of Cadillac advertising and sales promotion. "So we have to build not only awareness for this all new brand, we have to build consideration. And we have to do it rapidly."
The spots will be displayed online starting today and will debut as TV commercials during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on July 27.
The ATS is expected to arrive in showrooms by the end of the summer. It starts at $33,990, including destination charges.
Morocco to China
The commercials are intended to show the ATS as "nimble, quick and fun to drive" under some of the world's most extreme road and conditions, Peck said.
One commercial features the car negotiating more than 100 hairpin corners on a 3-mile stretch of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Another follows the car through the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. A third shows it slicing through the ancient, narrow Guoliang Tunnel in a remote part of China.
The campaign touts the car's performance bona fides, noting that it's the lightest in the compact luxury segment and sports standard Brembo brakes. Two of the 10 commercials GM plans to air directly call out the 3 series, long the volume leader in the United States and nationally.
"The task of the ATS is very ambitious," Jim Vurpillat, Cadillac's global marketing director, told reporters here yesterday. "Going into the largest luxury segment. Going against a brand like 3 series that's dominated the segment for 38 years.
"I think what you see in this campaign is befitting of something as ambitious as the task at hand from a business standpoint," he said.
Cadillac tapped some prominent talent to develop the spots. Director Joe Berlinger is an Academy Award-nominated documentary film maker. He worked with Jeff Zwart, a champion rally car driver and film maker who has done creative work for BMW and Porsche.
Fallon, Cadillac's creative ad agency, crafted the campaign.
A 25-member crew spent more than two months this spring filming in Morocco, Monaco, Chile and China. The commercials are set to pulsing rock music and feature documentary style banter between Derek Hill, a champion race car driver, and his sidekick Ross Thomas, a film maker.
Vurpillat said Cadillac dealers already are taking ATS orders. He noted the "anxiousness of our overall dealer body," which had seen Cadillac's lineup stripped to just three vehicles -- the CTS sedan, SRX crossover and Escalade SUV -- before last month's launch of the XTS large sedan.
"There's an awful lot of pent-up demand in the system," he said.
Cadillac's U.S. sales have sagged amid the brand's lean lineup. GM sold 62,812 Cadillacs during the first six months of this year, down 17 percent from the year-earlier period. The overall U.S. market is up 15 percent this year.
GM executives consider the ATS launch one of Cadillac's most important in decades. After years of false starts, they believe GM's luxury brand finally has a car worthy of taking market share from BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
The campaign "is meant to signal that something is different here, that something big is happening at Cadillac," Peck said. "It's not like anything we've ever done before."
You can reach Mike Colias at email@example.com.