Are Buick, Cadillac and Dodge driving away from their legacies?

Are Buick, Cadillac and Dodge driving away from their legacies?

Three prominent car makes (or, as Ford would prefer you to think of them, “brands”) have recently taken a stab at redefining themselves for, they must believe, a misguided public. Buick, Cadillac and Dodge have each taken different approaches to the challenges, and they work to varying degrees of success.

From least to most successful, I would rank them as follows:

  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Dodge

And here’s why …

Buick: If you haven’t changed our perceptions by now … when will you?

Is it just me, or does it seems like Buick has been running some variation on “Wait just a minute, that’s not a Buick!” for years now?

Trust dogs more than people? This one is for you …

If I’m being charitable, I would say that just shows how difficult it can be to change consumer’s perceptions of a brand … especially when you have spent some many billions of dollars, over so many decades, defining that brand identity in the first place

Since it’s a Monday, and the day after “Spring Forward” I am not particularly charitable, however, so instead I will call it lazy and confused (and confusing). Rather than crisply articulate how and why Buick has changed, this campaign offers us a number of surrogates for us, the car-observing public, expressing an insight you and I have probably never had (“I don’t believe it when my friend/neighbor/love one tells me he/she is driving a Buick because, you know, Buicks are so LAME.”)

Worse yet, a few of our surrogates are not particularly flattering (I’m looking at you, creepy stalker neighbor couple.)

Also I’m not sure what aspect of Buick’s identity they are trying to refute here. though. Is it their history of building solid, well-made family cars? Their tradition of affordable comfort? Something else? Who knows.

Ultimately what I take away from these spots is, if I do for whatever reason decide to buy a Buick, I should prepare myself for a series of encounters with a number of confrontational skeptics and other petty nuisances like the valet not being able to quickly find my car.

Cadillac: Reinvention Done Right

Rather than make consumers feel somewhat foolish for their antiquated brand perceptions, Cadillac successfully and artfully embraces more of the classic Iconoclast strategy in its Dare Greatly campaign.

Rather than use cartoonish surrogates, as Buick did, Cadillac instead leverages the characteristics of a small group of highly dynamic and admirable individuals who each had the ambition to accomplish more than what their societal labels might suggest.

From time to time throughout dogged effort remarkable individuals can break free of the limitations imposed on them by others. And maybe, just maybe, brands can, too.

From art direction to music cues to casting … everything in this spot supports a sophisticated and intelligent presentation of a brand ”reinvention.”

Such a  sophisticated and inclusive way of trying to change perceptions. So much better than “No, consumers, you’ve got it all wrong …”

Dodge: Even Better Than Reinventing Yourself …

What’s better than saying you are reinventing yourself? How about the message that, since day one, you’ve never been content with the status quo and you’re always looking to up the ante?

That’s the story (true or not in this great Dodge Brothers spot. We’ve seen so many tired and sleepy spots of cars wending their way through winding mountain roads that we rarely get a real shot or power, energy and adrenaline. The director has done a really great job is putting the “muscle” into these muscle cars. It’s a pretty thrilling spot.

What’s more, the montage does a great job of reminding us “Hey, you know Dodge has created some pretty bitchin’ cars over the years.”

Unlike Buick and even Cadillac, Dodge isn’t driving away from its heritage, It’s speeding headlong into it. It’s a thrilling ride.

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