Is it Time for Cadillac to Visit the Cadillac Ranch?

Yesterday brought another news story of GM trying to revitalize the storied Cadillac brand. Again. But how many times can you apply CPR before you pronounce it dead? Cadillac is a zombie brand. It is mortally wounded and unless your name is Frankenstein there isn’t a laboratory sophisticated enough resuscitate it.

Insert clever metaphor here but Cadillac’s imagery is old and tired at best and a Jack Klompus joke at worst. Changing the public’s impression of Cadillac makes changing that of Enron’s easy by comparison, it is that deeply ingrained.

Marketers will talk of a brand’s equity forgetting that equity is not always an asset it can be a liability too. Sometimes it is far better to declare a brand BK and launch a new one that doesn’t have an anchor tied to a drag chute

The challenge of changing a brand’s perception has to be weighed against creating a brand’s perception. In the case of Cadillac, it is in reverse so it has to get back to neutral and then into drive. A longer road than one from zero to sixty.

GM should keep all the technical marvels and upscale accoutrement, tweak the exterior, hire a competent agency that can create a narrative longer than 240 characters and create a new brand. New brands are exciting, they are vital, they pique interest and spark conversations. And, they are cheaper to launch than trying to shift ingrained consumer perceptions of a bad old one.

Case in point, GM spent at least $7 million connecting Tiger Woods to Buick in a bid to contemporize the brand. Now Buick is fine car I am sure, but I’d bet there is not more than a handful of LinkedIn members who own one.