Cadillac desperately needs some fresh pep in its step.
New product is steadily coming on stream. Now the challenge is to get a new degree of energy and outside perspective at its ad agency, the Detroit office of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. So Patrick Sherwood, managing director of the agency, has been looking to the outside to bring new blood to the Cadillac creative team.
One important new hire has been Jonathan Parkin-son, senior vice president and executive creative director, who came on board in June 1998 when the former creative director, Gary Horton, resigned. Parkinson, 50, a native of England, came from Bozell in California, where he was senior partner and creative director on the Taco Bell, Kawasaki Motorcycle and Taylor Made Golf Club accounts.
Parkinson's first task was to rid Caddy of its staid image and come up with entertaining ads for the new 2000 DeVille, the vehicle that will lead its comeback in the luxury market.
His first new campaign, 'The Power of &,' is meant to showcase both the styling and technology Cadillac has to offer. The ads for the DeVille began in November, followed by ads for the Seville, Escalade and Catera in January and the Eldorado this month.
Automotive Marketer Editor talked with Parkinson about his new challenge. What follows are edited excerpts.
What made you leave California and take on the humongous task of trying to jazz up the Cadillac name?
I think what Patrick is doing at D'Arcy is to shake things up, to develop openness and a lot of dialogue. I was hired because of my diverse experience, and I have added to the team a copywriter from J. Walter Thompson and an art director from San Francisco. We wanted people who were passionate about great creative. I also have young people in my department who I think are fabulous. They're over to my house for dinner. We need to know each other as humans.
What does 'Power of &' mean?
Some campaigns talk about either art or technology. We want to combine both in this campaign - talk to the consumers about what Cadillac is doing, get closer to the consumer. In the past, Cadillac took a back seat to individual brand ads. We're changing that around. There still will be car line advertising, but the emphasis now will be on Cadillac.
Who are you trying to reach in the ads?
We're using a diverse group (of people) in the ads. We at D'Arcy feel that we're not just that vehicle for older, white males. If you're going to change, that's where you really have to change.
Do you develop the ads by yourself, or does Cadillac also have a say?
We have designers come down to the shoot, and that is very helpful. They have passion; we have to convey that to the consumers.
What did you think about the previous creative work?
The older creative work needed relevance. For example, the 'Making Whoopie' campaign - it was comfortable and nice, but didn't say there was something going on at Cadillac.