Saturday, March 05, 2005

Saturday Car Blogging I: Marketing Follies

by Tom Bozzo

Automotive News reports that GM has been conducting celebrity focus groups to evaluate the 2007 Cadillac Escalade.
This trendsetting group included NBA and NHL stars. It included TV actors, movie producers, hip-hop artists and jazz musicians. Some were teenagers, others were 40 years old.
Cadillac marketers didn't anticipate the current Escalade's popularity with athletes and rappers, and now want to make sure that they don't miss the boat with the new model.
"Is there any way to get current and future Escalades in front of them to see if it's the right direction?" [GM chairman Richard] Wagoner asked.

[snip] source says some of the attendees included NBA players from the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, several leading actors from the TV sitcom "That '70s Show" and some of the celebrities invited to GM's pre-Oscar fashion show last week.
Hmm... Ashton Kutcher apparently drives one of these monsters, which apart from basic defects of aesthetics and good sense, may not be mass-marketable in the era of $50/bbl crude oil. But what were the VIPs really interested in?
"That [Cadillac] crest," [GM design chief Ed] Welburn says. "I heard over and over they wanted it large in the front and large in the rear and on the wheels and other unique areas."
This reminds me of one thing.
All my life, I have searched for a car that feels a certain way. Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball. Now, at last, I have found it.
Yes, the Homer.


Cadillac's other brilliant marketing idea is to sell a decent-looking and sensible small sedan, the BLS, only in Europe to try to restore the brand across the ocean and perhaps to gain credibility with Audi and BMW intenders here (currently, 96% of Cadillacs are sold to U.S. buyers). The theory of the latter is apparently that by selling an entry-level car deemed unsuitable for domestic tastes only to Europeans, Cadillac will "[underline] the brand's global ambitions and its key role in the premium segment." I judge that to be marketing B-L-S---.
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