Handsome New Cadillac XT4 Teased at Oscars Before New York Debut
Cadillac is showing off the upcoming XT4 before its official debut at the 2018 New York International Auto Show by tossing it into a handful of commercials scheduled during the 90th Academy Awards. While the television spots seem to be intended to whet appetites prior to the vehicle’s launch later this fall, it’s the best look we’ve had at the model to date. That said, careful lighting and smoke machines allowed the XT4 to show plenty of leg without unbuckling its belt and giving us a real show.
The overall design is on par with what we’ve come to expect from present-day Cadillac, with vertical headlights cutting deeply into the front fenders. However, it looks to be a more shapely SUV than everything else the brand currently offers. Styling was clearly a priority here, and every element that identifies a model as a Cadillac appears to have been exaggerated without going too far.
With three ads geared up, Cadillac features the XT4 in two of them. The model is the primary focus in one spot, backed by the song Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson. In the other, it only makes a brief cameo as the brand highlights all the things that makes it great. While both can be accused of lacking substance, the brand should be praised for highlighting its products instead of trying to achieve consumer loyalty though a tacked-on narrative.
Last year’s Oscar ads from Cadillac took some heat for being too sanctimonious and focused on New York City. They weren’t terrible, but the brand took note of criticisms from dealers and outside experts and adjusted the game plan for 2018. Regardless, Cadillac’s marketing has vastly improved since its “Dare Greatly” campaign from 2015 — which associated the company’s vehicles with important people changing the world.
“Luxury brands don’t sell products, they sell dreams,” Cadillac’s then chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, said at the time.
One of the ads didn’t even feature a product, just a woman narrating President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech while we watched a POV shot from some vehicle’s bumper as it tooled around Manhattan.
“We thought we started off in a good place leaving last year’s Oscars, just in terms of making our products front and center,” Cadillac Director of Marketing Renee Rauchut told Automotive News in a recent interview. “I think looking at the past couple of years of ‘Dare Greatly,’ that wasn’t always the case.”
We would agree and, thankfully, those strange days appear to be over. Conveying sentiment is important in any car ad because people often make purchasing decisions for emotional reasons. But it’s incredibly easy to take things one step too far. Fortunately, the new commercials take about 15 steps back in the right direction, letting people know Cadillac is not some weird new religion — rather, it’s a quality automaker providing innovative products that it’s proud of.
The ads will air Sunday evening and the 2019 XT4 will be at the New York Auto Show later this month.
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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