- Cadillac saw a 47% jump in dealership website traffic following the launch of a campaign around the Oscars, marketers for the brand said during a Wednesday panel at the IAB's NextGen Marketing Conference in New York City. Online, "Keep Rising" led to a 50% lift in search queries for the General Motors-owned automaker compared to the same period in 2018, as well as a 65% spike in main website traffic.
- "Keep Rising," developed with agency Rokkan, rolled out in three phases: Cadillac seeded the idea through paid social to ensure consumers were familiar with the messaging, which relates to the idea that people earn their way toward Cadillac ownership, or "earnership." To support the push, Cadillac tapped into a network of celebrity ambassadors connected to Academy Award-nominated films, such as Spike Lee ("BlacKkKlansman"), Constance Wu ("Crazy Rich Asians") and Winston Duke ("Black Panther").
- On Oscars night, each influencer shared on Twitter a "Keep Rising" story of how they became successful, which Cadillac retweeted as a tease for new TV spots running around the show. Lee and Wu also participated in campaign activations on the red carpet, referencing it during on-site interviews and walking up a lighted staircase resembling Cadillac's logo. The automaker extended the conversation on Twitter after the Oscars through a custom #KeepRising emoji.
Cadillac's "Keep Rising" shows how developing a multiphase marketing plan can help brands tap into larger cultural discussions, even around typically noisy destination viewing events like the Oscars. Developed over three months, the campaign leveraged a number of mobile tactics, including paid social and custom emoji, to drum up hype before launch and extend shelf life after the Oscars (the uptick in dealership site visits was more of a surprise, according to executives). Tying together these elements were a stronger definition of Cadillac's purpose and relevant, high-profile ambassadors to amplify that message.
"Our influencers authenticated the conversation," Melissa Grady, Cadillac's head of media and performance marketing, said on the panel. "They started the [#KeepRising] hashtag and people understood it ... we saw it took on a larger cultural meaning."
The messaging marked a big change-up for the brand, focusing on what buying a Cadillac means to drivers versus being squarely centered on trendy new vehicle technology.
"Innovation is at the core of everyone's agenda, specifically in automotive," Nicolas Chidiac, Rokkan's chief strategy officer, said during the panel. "Because that innovation cycle moves so quickly, employing an obsession with features is short-term."
The success of "Keep Rising" followed Cadillac's struggle for over 10 years to find a brand positioning that would drive reappraisals and properly reflect the company's identity, Chidiac said. Previous flops include attempts to more closely emulate everything from German car competitors to luxury fashion designers, according to Chidiac, whereas "Keep Rising" grew more organically. The idea resulted, at least in part, from an "ah-ha!" moment around a hidden — and likely unintentional — series of steps subtly embedded in the Cadillac logo.
"This story is very much about ultimately asking ourselves the question: Why can't we be more like us?" Chidiac said. "Imagine you're someone who moved up from a Toyota to a Cadillac, it's a big deal. That is core to the brand, [and] that is ultimately what we wanted to celebrate."
Beyond boosting chatter on channels like social and search, the campaign resonated strongly with female drivers, according to Grady, who said Cadillac engaged women more than ever before. Other automakers, such as Land Rover, Mercedes and Jeep, have similarly ramped up marketing efforts to court women, signaling that the historically stodgy and male-centric category could be changing its ways as it looks to reignite sales.
Cadillac parent General Motors saw U.S. sales dip 7% in Q1 2019, though a newer crossover model, the Cadillac XT4, performed the best in its segment, per The Motley Fool. As Cadillac tries to draw interest to a diversifying fleet of vehicles, which will soon add more electric-powered offerings, the foothold established with "Keep Rising" will be built upon, executives suggested.
"This is something that we're using in our advertising moving forward," Grady said. "We're rallying around this."
Correction: A Cadillac Oscars campaign drove a 47% increase in website traffic for dealers. The jump did not happen across foot traffic, as a previous version of this article misstated.