DETROIT - Cadillac and its new advertising agency plan to launch a campaign next month aimed at generating conquest sales.
Last week, Cadillac named Modernista its U.S. ad agency for creative work. That ended the luxury brand's relationship with Leo Burnett Detroit, which started in 1935.
Cadillac spent $226.5 million to advertise in U.S. media in 2005, says TNS Media Intelligence. That figure does not include regional dealer advertising.
In the first five months of 2006, Cadillac sales fell 5.2 percent from the year-ago period, to 87,355 vehicles.
Cadillac communications manager Kevin Smith says the brand is overhauling its product lineup and wants to broaden its buyer base.
"That is our big push - to increase conquest sales," Smith told Automotive News.
"We have begun to get on people's shopping lists and have increased awareness markedly. We have begun to see more conquests. But it is not to the degree that we would like to see."
Smith would not offer details about the ad campaign or divulge its budget.
No specific incident led to Cadillac's break with Leo Burnett, says General Motors spokeswoman Ryndee Carney.
"There is no smoking gun," Carney says. "We just feel Modernista brings a new perspective to the Cadillac account."
In February, Cadillac moved about half its ad business from Leo Burnett to Modernista, a Boston agency that also handles GM's Hummer account. Modernista picked up creative and regional advertising duties for the Cadillac CTS sedan, the SRX crossover, V-series performance models and other projects.
Liz Vanzura, Cadillac's new director of global marketing, previously held the same position at Hummer and worked closely with Modernista Vanzura and Modernista founder Lance Jensen also worked together at the Arnold ad agency in Boston.
Leo Burnett Detroit will keep GM's Pontiac ad account and continue to handle advertising for GM's Service and Parts Operations and its GM Goodwrench, GM Parts and GM Performance Parts brands. The agency handles some local dealer advertising for Cadillac, Hummer and Saab.
About 75 of Leo Burnett Detroit's 300 employees work on the Cadillac account, says agency spokeswoman Jennifer Flowers. The agency will lay off an undetermined number of staff, she says.
"Certainly there will be layoffs, and it will definitely be more than a few," Flowers says. "But people also will be placed elsewhere or reassigned. It is a tough time here, but it is not doomsday. We are going to manage the tough times."
Leo Burnett Detroit President Jim Moore said in a statement that his agency "played a key role in Cadillac's four consecutive years of sales success and brand renaissance."
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