Behind the scenes of Cadillac’s Olympic campaign
By James Thorne
Debuting during the 2012 Olympics, the “Cadillac ATS vs. the World” campaign was one of the standout ad spots of the international broadcast. The ATS is Cadillac’s entry-level luxury sedan, meant to compete in a market dominated by European manufacturers like Audi and BMW. The messaging of the campaign is summed up in the title, and quite literally pits the four door sedan against four stretches of road across the world. What viewers probably didn’t know while watching the TV spots is that the 30-second snapshots are just a gateway to a wealth of content distributed among more than 20 mini-documentaries centered around the car, the task of filming the campaign and various cultural segues.
Patagonia, Monaco, Morocco, China—director and racing legend Jeff Zwart took driver Derek Hill and actor Ross Thomas on a sometimes harrowing adventure that bridged continents in search of some of the most technically challenging segments of road around. The campaign was an aggressive move, signaling a car that is looking to seriously compete with the best manufacturers in the world. We spoke with Todd Riddle—of the Fallon agency, who spearheaded the campaign—as well as Zwart to learn about the unique challenge of executing an project of this scale.
“We wanted to maximize this experience,” says Riddle. “We knew we wanted to go beyond the 30-second world of what we were delivering on TV to have a web experience that could be really full in terms of not just showing where we were but also what the features of the car were and how that worked.” The splash page makes that message clear, with four locations that lead to photography, text and videos.
“We wanted to create a palette, so to speak, of locations,” Riddle continues. “If you look at the ATS website, you literally see this palette of locations and there are some nice, different textures—Monaco, Morocco, Patagonia and China.” From heritage racing sites to hand-carved tunnels, a sense of discovery and storytelling uses the ATS as a launchpad for a larger narrative.
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