Cadillac Goes To The Ball


Had you been in Manhattan and strolled into SoHo bistro 100 Acres for lunch on Tuesday, you would have seen a lot of black Cadillac XTS sedans and SRX crossovers with sparkling black paint jobs lined up along the cobblestone street, and, of course, Pierre Kanter (GM’s car guy in New York) hanging out, making sure nobody grabbed one. In the back of the restaurant, you would have seen a bunch of style writers. So I heard.

This writer knows this because, while he was not invited, he was having lunch up front with a guy who used to be with Cadillac. Total coincidence. The event in the back very likely was aligned in some way with a new program, “Style Driven,” detailing the life of stylist Erin Walsh, and her curation of the outfits New York brahmins and “brahminas” will wear to the costume Institute Benefit at the Metropolitan Museum. 



The program comprises a four-part video vignette in which Walsh talks about the importance of the gala and how the hell she’s going to deck out people like actress Greta Gerwig in clothes that are elegant (and super expensive) but also -- in alignment with this year’s theme -- totally punk. Which kind of works because punk is totally last century. 

Cadillac gets a lot of beauty-shot placement as the SRX is shown from numerous angles tooling around the city with Walsh doing an in-vehicle monologue about the show while trying to find dresses and jewelry for Gerwig. For the gala itself, Cadillac will provide VIP valet service to a select group of celebrities attending the event, the automaker says. Melody Lee, director of brand and reputation strategy at Cadillac, said in a statement that the division developed the series with Vogue.TV.

From a brand positioning perspective, this is a departure from the male-centric Cadillac ethos of recent years around performance as an expression of luxury. Caddie performance makes sense as it works both to get the brand away from its now-distant, comfy-car past and also to put it in better stead against the Germans. With the launch of its global car, the ATS, Cadillac took the performance idea global, with a multimedia travelogue featuring a couple of intrepid-driver narrators. 

The SRX, since its 2004 launch, has always been something of an outlier to this strategy. That makes sense, too. The car is, after all, a crossover. In recent years advertising has focused on more family-friendly features like the available moonroof and a magnetized-particle suspension technology. For the second-generation SRX, the company hasn’t been all that active lately, at least in the U.S. market. Last month, however, it did launch a China campaign featuring Brad Pitt. The SRX got a slight facelift for 2013.

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