DETROIT -- Chris Perry says General Motors has two weapons to attack the luxury market: Buick and Cadillac.
GM's new U.S. marketing chief calls Buick an "approachable" premium brand, one that can take on Lexus, Acura and Infiniti, for drivers who want understated luxury. That leaves Cadillac to go head-to-head with Mercedes, BMW and Audi by appealing to drivers who want dynamic performance and styling -- and want to be seen.
"We've been able to define two distinct audiences within the luxury category," Perry said. Cadillac "probably lines up more toward the Germans, and Buick a little bit more toward the Asian brands."
Positioning Cadillac and Buick has been a priority for Perry since January, when he was named head of GM's U.S. marketing. Before that, he spent nine months as Chevrolet's marketing chief, helping steer the relaunch of GM's mainstay brand last fall with the "Chevy runs deep" tag line.
Cadillac is getting its makeover under a new ad campaign from Fallon Worldwide, defining Cadillac as "red-blooded luxury." Perry says Cadillac appeals to buyers who are "individualistic," "enthusiastic" and "entrepreneurial."
Now it's Buick's turn. Commercials from ad agency Leo Burnett featuring a 20-something guy cruising through lush hills in a Buick Regal turbo have run during the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Buick's marketing appeals to "introverts" and the Cadillac campaign targets "extroverts," Perry said.
The approach makes sense to Byron Hansen, whose Hansen Motor Co. near Salt Lake City sells Buick and Cadillac. Although Buick is attracting more well-heeled buyers, his Buick customers "get a little nervous about driving to church in a Cadillac," Hansen said. "They don't want to portray this luxury image."