FORBES: Why Cadillac’s New ‘Sound Of Arrival’ Campaign Featuring RZA Is A Winner

Cadillac has just launched a new digital campaign that will run on social channels, including Twitter, Instagram and YouTube titled “Sound of Arrival” in association with the launch of the new Escalade. The campaign features rapper, actor, filmmaker and record producer RZA explaining how each of the 36 speakers in its AKG Studio Reference System work together to deliver perfect sound via symmetry and function. In the first spot, titled “Hero,” RZA explains the technology as the speakers come to life.

In conjunction with the campaign, RZA recorded one of his band’s (Wu-Tang Clan) most successful albums, 36 Chambers, on an AKG microphone—the same brand of speakers, featuring the same number (36) of speakers included in the new Escalade. In the background of the spot is a new instrumental remix of Wu-Tang Clan’s hit song, C.R.E.A.M.

Cadillac has also released a longer behind the scenes video showing the making of the commercial that can be seen below.

In reviewing this campaign, it gives all appearances of being effective for Cadillac for three reasons:

1) Excellent creative that reinforces a unique product feature in a competitive category

The high-margin SUV market is important to the profitability of General Motors and Cadillac. With back-up cameras, parking assist, and many other high-tech features becoming standard on high-end models for multiple competitors, the option of a state of the art sound system is a legitimate differentiator. This, coupled with the excellent filmmaking and clever use of 36 Chambers to reinforce the idea of 36 speakers working together, drives the uniqueness of this feature home.

Jessica Mangiapane, Senior Manager of Cross Brand Strategy at Cadillac, emphasizes the importance of the sounds system for Cadillac. “The AKG Studio Reference audio system takes the same Grammy award winning studio reference technology used by professionals and for the finest audio package we can create exclusively for Cadillac—using only the finest craftsmanship, materials and finishes.”

A 19-speaker AKG sound system is standard on the Luxury, Premium Luxury and Sport trim levels of the Escalade while the AKG Studio Reference 36-speaker system is available on the Premium Luxury and Sport trims and standard for customers that select either the Premium Luxury Platinum or Sport Platinum trim.

2) RZA is an effective spokesperson for the campaign given terms of Cadillac’s target market

Cadillac has made an excellent choice in featuring RZA in this campaign. With the average age of a new Cadillac buyer being on the higher end of the industry of industry norms, it makes sense to choose a spokesperson whose fan base skews towards Millennials and the younger part of Generation-X. With Wu-Tang Clan achieving peak popularity in the 1990s and sustained success as a filmmaker and producer, the fit is clear. On one hand, it would not make sense to expect consumers in their 20s and early 30s to suddenly be able to buy Escalades in a market where more than half of all new car buyers are 55 or older. On the other it is important to have appeal to the younger side of the realistic age range of the target market in building loyalty for the future.

Cadillac is also well aware of the fit of RZA with Escalade. Jessica Mangiapane, Senior Manager of Cross Brand Strategy at Cadillac, describes the reason for the fit as follows: “RZA is a natural fit given his unique, multi-faceted background that includes being an awarded filmmaker, actor, film producer, rapper and being named one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time. The Escalade’s available AKG Studio Reference 36-speaker sound system also shares the same brand as the AKG microphones RZA used to record iconic tracks throughout his career. Lastly, RZA is passionate about Cadillac and Escalade, having owned an Escalade since the late 90’s.”

3) The campaign capitalizes on Cadillac’s success in the African American market while being product focused

Cadillac’s historic strength in the African American community as an aspirational vehicle is a major asset to the brand. A study from Viant found that among millennials, African-Americans are 57% more likely to drive a Cadillac than other groups. As RZA notes in the “making of” video, owning a Cadillac was a lifelong goal of his. With so much global competition including other U.S. made brands as well as strong luxury nameplates from Asia and Europe, it is important for Cadillac to protect and build on its position.

While Cadillac is engaging in other corporate social responsibility initiatives (CSR) to engage the African American community and promote equality, it is critically important to continue to innovate if they expect to continue to successfully differentiate and compete in this market. As many companies are engaging in CSR programs, it likely not sufficient in isolation. RZA’s general appeal also helps the campaign in that the brand can build on core strengths with African American consumers but also appeal to other groups at the same time.

All in all, the campaign has the marks of a successful effort.