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Branding: Cadillac’s web advertorial broadens their appeal in a relevant way

August 5, 2011
CNN Money web ad for Cadillac's "Business Unusual" microsite

This small video web ad on money.cnn.com caught my attention and led me to a sponsored microsite for Cadillac -- and a fresh opinion of the brand.

Our last post hammered Porsche for watering down its brand by hawking practical benefits in a cheesy way. To balance the scales we’d like to present another automotive campaign which has our admiration.

Cadillac has been running a “Special Advertising Feature” on money.cnn.com called Cadillac Business Unusual, which is a video travelblog featuring stories about entrepreneurs and their businesses. It successfully paints Cadillac as a visionary, youthful, innovative risk-taker. This microsite nails what we call compatible branding: aligning your brand with your target audience’s lifestyle needs, habits and aspirations.

Cadillac microsite landing page

Sponsored editorial, like advertorial in print, may not be the sexiest form of advertising, but it actually can be pretty smart branding. Stepping away from an overt sales pitch can help a brand broaden its appeal, build trust and send the message that the customer relationship is more important than the sale. Business Unusual does this well.

The site cosmetically seems a bit more advertising than editorial, with maybe a dozen ways to click through to product information including plenty of ads. It also wisely features the product each video, usually being put to use in some way. But neither the car, nor it’s features upstage the human story and this keeps the campaign sincere. It also really helps that they picked the perfect host, Chris Hardwick. Hardwick is a young, likeable actor/comedian/tech geek and he adds humor to each video.

Ironically, Cadillac, which is known for features and benefits (what don’t you get with a Caddy?) is drawing our eye away from its tangible assets and asking us for an emotional connection, while Porsche, literally designed to eschew practicality in favor of passion, is selling itself like an Accord LX. Check both out and tell us what you think.

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