DETROIT -- Success has many fathers, and Cadillac's canny adoption of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" recording is no exception.
Among veterans of the ad campaign, memories differ as to who fathered the idea. So here's one recollection: Mark LaNeve took the helm of Cadillac in 2001 just as the brand's murky "The power of &" tag line was wearing out its welcome.
Cadillac and its ad agency started work on a new campaign for the CTS sedan and settled on the slogan "Break on Through."
The proposed campaign would need strong theme music. The ad agency -- D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, now called Chemistri -- wanted to use the song "Break on Through" by The Doors. So it dispatched an executive to Los Angeles to seek the band's permission.
All agreed except the drummer, an avid environmentalist who didn't like what he called GM's gas-guzzling lineup of vehicles. Defeated, the executive returned to Detroit.
Here's where memories differ. The ad executive, who asked not to be named, says he rummaged through Led Zeppelin's song catalog and found "Rock and Roll."
But LaNeve recalls asking three Cadillac executives -- Jay Spenchian, CJ Fraleigh and Kim Kosak -- to help him find a good theme song.
"So it was me, Spenchian, Kosak and Fraleigh locked in a room," LaNeve says. "We sat and listened to hundreds of pieces of music. Then we heard Zeppelin's 'Rock and Roll' and we said 'That's it.' We got lucky, and we were able to get the rights."
So who first proposed Led Zeppelin? It doesn't really matter. LaNeve was instrumental in coordinating the campaign, the ad executive recalls. And Cadillac successfully overcame the doubts of GM product czar Robert Lutz.
At one meeting, Lutz said the Cadillac brand required classical music. But as any baby boomer knows, Led Zeppelin is classical music.
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