October 5th, 2008

Cadillac & Kate Walsh

The Cadillac commercials featuring Kate Walsh have been our for a while, but they must have just increased their media buy, as I have started seeing them again.  I remember when I first saw the commercials: I talked with friends about my affinity for the commercials.  They made me want a Cadillac.  This was, of course, before I was in the market for a car.  And, by the time I was in the market, I had forgotten about Cadillac.

But, I digress.  The commercials are playing again, and again, I asked a friend: is it weird that I really like these commercials?  This sparked an interesting conversation about who Cadillac is really targeting.  I assume that it is single, successful females-without young children-who connect with the the Addison Montgomery character of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.  My friend agrees because this spot is so different from “safety, family, convenience” message that is typically targeted to women.  Women who are moms, of course.  Not all women are moms.  Nor do all women want to be moms.  So, the question arises: how many women are there who are single and can afford a $60,000ish car?  Is this a viable target for Cadillac?

[A note on the lesson I learned by being forced to think about this just a little past “I like this spot”: Just because the commercial appeals to me, does not mean the brand is targeting me.  As advertisers, we sometimes have a hard time distinguishing our reactions from those of the consumers we target.]

As I continued to ponder this question, I remembered that women always want to see themselves as younger than they are (the opposite of children, who want to see themselves as older).  So, when targeting a 40-50 year old woman, brands feature a mid-30’s woman using the product.  Makes sense.  Luxury cars are really for that boomer audience, who can actually afford them.  But, Cadillac has a bit of a stodgy association, right?  I think of it as my grandfather’s car.  And, boomers don’t think of themselves as old.  In fact, they desperately try to avoid any association with it.  Perhaps Cadillac chose Kate Walsh-who is about to turn 41-as that person who will appeal to the boomer target and make the brand feel a bit younger.  She makes the brand “cool” again.

I wonder if this strategy will work for Cadillac?  I suspect it will take a couple of years to see the difference this “when you turn your car on, does it return the favor” positioning makes, but I think it will make a difference in the type of person you see driving a Cadillac in the future.

For your reference, here is one of the Kate Walsh spots:

3 thoughts on “Cadillac & Kate Walsh

  1. Great question. I took the price as stated by a friend without checking. However, upon looking it up today, the Cadillac website lists the price range of the CTS as $36,880-$59,025. It is probably a fair assumption that she is driving one closer to the $59,025 price tag.

    Thanks for reading the blog.

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