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Cadillac distances itself from GM.

By Keith Naughton SOUTHFIELD, Mich.AuCadillac, the luxury brand General Motors acquired in 1909, is distancing itself from the Detroit-based automaker to avoid the stigma of the parent companyAAEs $50 billion U.S.-backed bankruptcy last year. Cadillac is erasing the GM name from its marketing and dealerships, changing e-mail addresses to from and exiting companywide promotions such as the Red Tag Event, said Nick Twork, a spokesman. The separation strategy was AoabsolutelyAo driven by GMAAEs restructuring, he said. AoCadillac, which has really turned itself around with new levels of quality and exemplary products, doesnAAEt want to be associated with something that will drag it down,Ao said John Grace, president of marketing consultant BrandTaxi in Stamford, Conn. AoWith GMAAEs bankruptcy comes lower credibility in the ability to build quality products.Ao Bolstering Cadillac is central to Chief Executive Officer Ed WhitacreAAEs effort to revive GM, which is shedding half its US brands as part of a post-Chapter 11 plan. Cadillacs such as the SRX sport wagon start at $33,330, a 47 percent premium over the Chevrolet Equinox, according to researcher The recession and GMAAEs slide into bankruptcy helped cut CadillacAAEs 2009 US sales by 32 percent, compared with the drop of 30 percent for the biggest US automaker. CadillacAAEs 14 percent gain this year is the worst among GMAAEs 4 remaining brands and less than half of their combined 31 percent jump. Disavowing the parent company reverses the approach the automaker took five years ago when it began affixing a silver GM badge on all its models. AoOur own studies show that consumers place a tangible value on the General Motors name,Ao GM said at the time. Now, company officials are telling dealers the separation strategy is aimed at avoiding the Aonegative connotations with GM because of the bankruptcy,Ao said David Butler, general manager of Suburban Cadillac in Ann Arbor and Troy, Mich. AoThere is a lot of pressure on Cadillac this year because it took such a beating last year,Ao Butler said. AoAs Cadillac dealers, we didnAAEt like being lumped in with the other GM brands, especially when they threw us into the Red Tag sale. We felt it cheapened the brand.Ao Instead of joining the annual year-end sale featuring discounted prices and cash rebates, Cadillac will run its own marketing campaigns that probably will include lease promotions more popular with luxury buyers, said Twork, the spokesman. A new Cadillac ad campaign will debut later this month before a model introduction at the New York International Auto Show on March 31, Twork said. AoWeAAEre in the process of revamping all the things that face the customer,Ao Twork said. AoThe Cadillac brand is best communicated as Cadillac without GM.Ao Founded in 1902 and bought by GM seven years later, Cadillac is the first unit trying to create distance from the parent company. Chevrolet, Buick and GMC are also starting to play down those ties, said Susan Docherty, GMAAEs marketing chief. GMAAEs logo is being removed from the base of signs at dealerships selling other brands, Docherty said, and the automaker is poised to begin research on how customers perceive the company. AoConsumers, in their minds, can separate out the corporation versus the brands,Ao Docherty said in an interview. AoThey can separate AaeHey, I can still fall in love with a CTS coupe, but I may not necessarily be happy with the fact that General Motors had to go through bankruptcyAAE.Ao WPBLOO

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Mar 15, 2010
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