Cadillac, the auto marque, has placed the concept of “earnership” at the heart of its marketing efforts, in reflection of both its own storied legacy, as well as broader cultural trends.

Nic Chidiac, chief strategy officer at Rokkan, Cadillac’s creative shop, and a unit of Publicis Groupe, discussed this subject at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2019 NexGen Marketing Summit.

While the brand had “incredible cars”, he asserted, the aim to get people to look at Cadillac with a “pair of fresh eyes” was a familiar one. “That was the same brief for the last – pretty much – ten or 15 years,” said Chidiac.

Previous responses to this instruction had included attaching the brand to culture, drawing from the playbook of high-end German automakers, and even behaving “like a luxury fashion brand,” he reported.

A “4Cs” framework was used in reappraising Cadillac’s position, a process that began with looking at the category in which it operated. (For more details, read WARC’s report: Cadillac drives social conversations, positive sentiment and digital traffic with Oscars campaign.)

The brand resides in a segment of the auto category that is “speaking to the privileged,” Chidiac said. “Even the aesthetics and the way the category speaks is very much in the ilk of prestige.”

Looking at the consumer base revealed a powerful insight. “A significant portion of the people who are actually driving Cadillacs are … buying a luxury vehicle for the first time,” Chidiac said.

Focus groups helped clarify this point. “What we realized was core to the brand’s DNA is that you’re never, ever handed a Cadillac,” said Chidiac. “No one gets a Cadillac for their 16th birthday.”

And this concept of working hard en route to reaping the reward of a top-of-the-line vehicle was summed up with the term “earnership”, a subtle play on “ownership”.

From a company perspective, this was a neat fit for Cadillac: “Historically … Cadillac was always the brand for people who made it. And it marked the beginning of a long journey ahead,” Chidiac said.

The final element of the “4Cs” framework was culture. And the understanding that upward mobility is an increasingly rare achievement tracked back to the idea that a consumer buying their first Cadillac is truly a “big deal”.

“That is core to the brand. And that is ultimately what we thought we wanted to celebrate, particularly in this culture,” said Chidiac.

Sourced from WARC