Cadillac previews XT4 crossover in new Oscar ads

Cadillac is giving consumers their first official look at the Cadillac XT4, which introduces a new design language for the venerable American luxury  brand.

The compact crossover is featured in two of three ads that were released Friday ahead of airing Sunday during the 90th Academy Awards.

Based on the ads, the vehicle appears more sculpted than Cadillac’s current lineup. It also marks an evolution of the brand’s signature LED lighting, while heavily featuring design cues from Cadillac’s Escala concept car, which was featured in an ad last year for the Oscars.

The ads are much more upbeat than previous ones in Cadillac’s 3-year-old “Dare Greatly” campaign. They’re also less New York-centric — addressing a criticism from dealers and outside experts — and center on Cadillac’s vehicles and technologies.

“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 Renée Rauchut told Automotive News. “I think looking at the past couple of years of ‘Dare Greatly,’ that wasn’t always the case.”

The commercials, which were primarily filmed in January, mark a change in messaging for the General Motors luxury brand following the departure of former Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus at the end of last year.

Rauchut said the ads were inspired by the idea of people being “overwhelmed with the reality of our future.” She said her team wanted to showcase what Cadillac has to offer now in terms of fun-to-drive vehicles and futuristic technology.

“We know that we have a reputation of being a stodgy old brand, and anybody that’s actually driven our cars in the last couple of years knows that’s not the case,” she said. “We wanted to bring that same excitement and kind of exhilaration of how we use our products and drive our cars.”

All three ads feature popular, upbeat songs such as “Fire” by Barns Cortney; Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.

A 60-second anthem spot — The Future is Here — showcases much of the brand’s lineup and technologies, including the Super Cruise hands-free highway driving system and Book by Cadillac monthly vehicle subscription service. It also prominently features the XT4, Escalade SUV, ATS-V performance sedan and CT6 with Super Cruise.

Cadillac takes a subtle jab at electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. in the ad, as a CT6 being operated by Super Cruise drives past what appears to be a Tesla Model S, which debuted the company’s controversial Autopilot system.

The 30-second ads are unique as they do not use voice-overs. Instead, they let the images as well as the background music do the talking.

The “Future Cars 30-second spot features iconic “futuristic” car footage from notable films and TV, including “The Jetsons” and Back to the Future, before displaying, “We’ve been dreaming of the future for a long time … Guess what? … It’s here.” It then goes into footage of a CT6 in Super Cruise mode.

The last 30-second ad is a shadowy teaser of the XT4. It shows fast cuts of the crossover, which is scheduled to be unveiled this month at Cadillac’s headquarters in New York.

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