Cadillac’s ‘Don’t You Dare’ Axes Car Clichés For Young Achievers Oscars Ads

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Gone are the generic urban nightscapes, the sweeping mountain road rural backdrops, the uber-stylised dynamic product shots and all the other auto ad clichés and in comes a series of films about inventive young achievers as Cadillac rolls out a set of Academy Awards ads that it hopes will ensure its brand stands out in the premium automotive seas of sameness and engages with younger, millennials.


Cadillac’s inspirational storytelling tactic aims to use its status as the official automotive sponsorship of the 88th Academy Awards (it held the same rights in 2015) to inspire viewers to drive the world forward (and connect the car company to the ideal and to younger drivers).


The TV ads were supported by a week of Oscar-focused experiential and digital initiatives too.


The spots build on the brand’s umbrella ‘Dare Greatly’ tagline and run under the series title ‘Don’t You Dare’.


During the Oscars telecast the premium car marquee launched two 60-second spots featuring young achievers:


One focusing on Easton LaChapelle (a 19-year-old who developed a brain-powered prosthetic limb),



and the other telling the story of Justus Williams (who became a national chess master at the age of 12)



But these ads are just two in an expanding thematic series all launched around the Oscars (27 and 28 February) that includes a wrap overview spot,




and a series of more detailed, in-depth individual online videos that includes teen chef Flynn McGarry,



paper sculptor Giannia Paniagua,



17-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka (who’s ambition is to improve the safety of Americans suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s),



Laura Deming (who began working in the world’s first anti-aging lab at age 12 and then founded The Longevity Fund)



and Christopher Grey (co-founder of the Scholly app that is the world of financial aid).



All of the protagonists of these storytelling spots achieved success through passion, dedication and resourcefulness and, according to the car brand, ‘dared to do what naysayers told them couldn’t be done’.


The stories are all hubbed on the campaign’s site and are connected and amplified using the hashtag #DAREGREATLY – which also encourages viewers to submit their own entries for powerful, young achiever stories.


The brand leveraged the build up to the Academy Awards through a joint digital and experiential support strand.


From an Oscars Cadillac CT6 Experience PR and influencer initiative (based around a LA Hotel and which included a cocktail party, breakfast briefing, lunch, celebrity chefs, celebrity appearances and Oscar night party and, of course, test drives), to using social media to amplify the campaign,



to cover the Oscars from the car company’s own perspective,




and to spread various Oscar related social media content pieces across Twitter



and Snapchat.





This campaign follows neatly on from its previous year’s Oscars campaign that launched the ‘Dare’ repositioning using more famous entrepreneurial faces (see case study) and a big ppart of Cadillac’s objective for this year’s campaign is to use the youthful achiever creative and the Oscars to appeal to younger drivers.


Indeed, the car brand’s chief marketing officer Ellinghaus explains that a couple of decades ago ‘people walked away from their grandfather’s car, the Cadillac, and went to the German brands’, but now ‘the older customers are sitting in German brands, giving younger customers the idea to take a look at Cadillac. It’s a paradigm shift to where Cadillac was 30 years ago’.


Thus, Cadillac decided to launch the campaign at the Oscars and not the Super Bowl because more of its target audience tunes in to the Academy Awards.


‘The Super Bowl has a great reach, but for us, it would be too much reach. We also think that the Super Bowl turns into an advertising contest that reflects more on the ego problems of chief marketing officers than the actual marketing that’s represented,’ Ellinghaus explains.


‘The Oscars feels so much more prolific for Cadillac as a brand. We’ve always had strong associations with Hollywood and with entertainment, so it’s part of our heritage.’


‘We went to these young people as protagonists for the campaign because it’s amazing what they’ve achieved in their young lifetimes—how self-confident they are, how they’ve become entrepreneurs and mastered their own destinies,’ says Cadillac CMO Uwe Ellinghaus.


‘We want to be a brand for customers who also have this confidence, who say, ‘I’m not the usual corporate animal. I can buy what I want and drive what I want.’


Cadillac’s chief marketing officer also issued two primary creative directives when briefing during campaign planning: no automotive clichés and no clichés commonly associated with luxury cars ads.


‘There are certain elements of the zeitgeist that you can see in all car ads—contemporary architecture as a backdrop, bridges, buildings that all look the same,’ says Caddy CMO Uwe Ellinghaus..


‘They fall into generic backdrops that might be appropriate to show the capabilities of the car, but they become so interchangeable that people say, “Ah, typical car ad,’ and flip the page or turn off the TV. Our advertising has a certain stopping power in it”.’


The ‘Don’t You Dare’ stories are all about driving the world forward, vision, self belief and the motivation to make things happen and change the world.


But could the connection between these stories and Cadillac’s own commitment not just to celebrate them, but to be inspired by their achievements and share their drive and vision be a little clearer and more direct?




Cadillac YouTube:


Cadillac ‘Dare Greatly’ Web Hub:


Cadillac Google+:


Cadillac Twitter:


Academy/Oscars Homepage:


Academy/Oscars Twitter:



Academy/Oscars Instagram:


Academy/Oscars Tumblr:


Academy/Oscars Facebook:


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