Established in 1902, Cadillac is America’s original luxury brand. It consistently pushed boundaries, earning a celebrated reputation as “The Standard of the World.” Cadillac also became a global symbol of aspiration and an iconic fixture in popular culture, the choice of film stars, artists and musicians. Over the years, the brand encountered the expected struggles that accompany a 115-year history, ultimately losing share to German luxury brands. But under bold new leadership, and with an unprecedented product offensive in the pipeline, Cadillac is on the rise again.
To propel its resurgence, Cadillac made the bold decision in 2015 to move from Detroit to the epicenter of global luxury: New York. Following its move, Cadillac embraced a completely new rallying cry: Dare Greatly. This set the tone for the brand as it embarked on a mission to engage new, younger consumers.
While its overall brand health is on an upswing, Cadillac has perception problems, especially among Millennials who consider it an “old man” brand. Cadillac recognized that in order to change opinion, it needed more effective face-to-face interaction. It doubled down on experiential marketing, focusing on passion points for Millennials, like art and design. In 2016, Cadillac became the official automotive partner of The Andy Warhol Museum. The partnership was fitting; two American icons, each with a shared history of daring. Cadillac’s objective was to leverage this partnership to connect to Millennials.
Millennials are considered the throwback generation, nostalgic for and interested in culture from earlier decades. To Millennials, car brands are boring. Andy Warhol’s story, on the other hand, is infinitely more compelling and aligns well with Millennials penchant for nostalgia. More than any other generation, Millennials are exploring culture from the decades before them. By tapping into the memories of a previous era—like personal letters to Andy Warhol— and connecting them to Cadillac, we would create a compelling reason for the target to engage with the brand.
Presenting: Letters to Andy Warhol, an interactive art experience that introduces two celebrated American Icons—Andy Warhol and Cadillac––to a new generation.
There are many stories about Andy Warhol, but few provide a glimpse at the private thoughts of the man. To attract affluent Millennials, we needed to create something truly special.
Working with curators from The Andy Warhol Museum, we identified five rarely-seen letters from the museum archives that showcased Warhol’s bold ambition and intimate connection to the worlds of fashion, music, art and celebrity. These insightful, personal notes—from people like Yves Saint Laurent and Mick Jagger – also reflected our brand by underscoring themes of daring greatly.
To bring these letters to life, we assigned each to a celebrity creator to collaborate on the project. We selected people based on their “dare greatly” spirit, as well as their artistic accomplishments and overall cultural caché. We asked each to examine the universal themes in the letter, as well as his/her own connection to Warhol, and then develop an artistic installation inspired by both.
Letters to Andy Warhol comprised five interactive exhibits, each of which include Warhol’s personal correspondence, a statement from the collaborator and the installation piece. The exhibition also includes Warhol artwork that overtly features Cadillac, as well as a heritage Cadillac vehicle similar to that in Warhol’s art. There was also a wall graphic reinforcing the Warhol-Cadillac connection.
Since Millennials value being co-creators, we incorporated technologies like VR and Google Tilt Brush. Guests could create virtual album art, take a Warhol-inspired Polaroid and flip through a giant board book. Content was immediately shareable.
We developed targeted outreach for the exhibition, inviting key influencers in each market to gallery openings and related events. We also leveraged our celebrity collaborators, extending invitations to their circle of friends, ensuring an affluent Millennial crowd.
A global exhibition, Letters to Andy Warhol launched in New York, before traveling to Los Angeles and Miami—major markets for the Cadillac brand. We also extended the experience digitally, developing a dedicated website. The exhibit also traveled to Europe and UAE.
Letters to Andy Warhol engaged its target with an inspiring art experience that achieved brand relevancy rates 3-4X benchmark averages—all without any paid media support.
The exhibition also enabled us to engage with affluent Millennials in an authentic way. Using targeted outreach, we invited key audiences to special dinner events, previews, gallery talks and cocktail parties with The Warhol Museum and Cadillac VIPs. A special mini-preview of Letters to Andy Warhol was also featured at Summit at Sea, an event focused on catalyzing entrepreneurship, creative achievement and global change attended by more than 3,000 North American influencers.
Opening events in each city received positive press coverage in Vogue, Rolling Stone and Harper’s Bazaar. The compelling work featured in Letters to Andy Warhol attracted luminaries like Heidi Klum, Giancarlo Giammetti, Poppy Delevingne and Rachel Zoe, further raising our brand profile among affluent Millennials.