Architecture tours, Cadillac style

The 2015 Cadillac Escalade: Tour shuttle
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Editor's note: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the number of guests who will attend Cadillac's architectural tours. It has been corrected. 

DETROIT -- Mercedes-Benz plays to fashionistas with its sponsorship of Fashion Week in New York. BMW appeals to art buffs through its partnership with the Art Basel art show in Miami Beach and its Art Car Collection.

Now, Cadillac wants in on architecture.

Cadillac is planning an experiential marketing campaign that will host architectural tours in Chicago next month, followed by tours in New York, Dallas, Miami and Los Angeles through the rest of the year.

A few hundred guests in each city will be chauffeured in redesigned 2015 Escalades to three or four architectural sites, such as the One World Trade Center tower in New York and a modernist boathouse in Chicago designed by architect Jeanne Gang. Architects or designers picked by Cadillac marketing partner Architectural Digest will serve as tour guides.

The "Driven by Design" campaign is an effort to spotlight the distinctive styling of Cadillac vehicles, which executives have said represents the brand's best shot at turning the heads of luxury buyers who don't look beyond Mercedes, BMW or Audi.

Melody Lee, Cadillac's director of brand and reputation strategy, says the goal isn't to cull instant sales leads but rather to connect the brand to cultural pursuits that interest prospective customers.

"It's about taking Cadillac up from the nameplate level to the brand level, where you can give people an idea of why they should buy into this Cadillac story," Lee says. "It's not meant to be an immediate panacea for our image problems."

The list of invitees will include a mix of Cadillac customers and owners of other brands. Guests will get a backgrounder from product experts on the Escalade as they are shuttled between stops, which will range from museums to private homes.

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@crain.com.


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