Cadillac Comes To Foursquare: Discuss

May 20, 2011

Cadillac used to be the car of grandparents' dreams: solid, dependable, and staid. It said, "Yes, I've arrived...at Denny's for the early bird special."

In recent years, though, Caddy has been making a play for younger drivers. Design has gotten bolder and edgier, and the company has tapped spokespeople who can appeal to Gen X consumers, like Matrix star and former Pee-Wee Herman sidekick Laurence Fishburne.

Now, it appears Caddy is aiming even younger: yesterday, the brand launched a channel on Foursquare, implying that it's after Gen Y drivers, too. (And to a lesser degree, their moms.) The company promises followers an array of special deals for followers:

"Follow Cadillac on foursquare to receive exclusive Cadillac offerings and insider tips. If you check in to the right places, Cadillac will be awaiting your explorations with valuable advantages, secret deals, expert suggestions and exclusive rewards."

Foursquare and automakers

Foursquare members enjoy the serendipitous, unplanned benefits it offers: users check in to a shop or cafe, see that there's a deal nearby, then take advantage of it. As a geolocational service, it works great for restaurants that want to offer two-for-one drinks, or retailers willing to give discounts on t-shirts. The chances of consumers taking advantage of car deal on the spur of the moment, though, probably aren't as good.

That's not to say that automakers haven't tried leveraging Foursquare to their advantage: just a few weeks ago, we saw Mercedes offer a $1000 discount to anyone who checked in at the 2011 New York Auto Show. But it would seem pretty clear that the price point of autos is too high to benefit from Foursquare -- at least, as the service is typically deployed.

On the other hand, we're seeing a huge shift in marketing these days: what used to be a fairly tight funnel of engagement-consideration-purchase is now much wider. Now, brands of all sorts are having long conversations with consumers on social media -- conversations that could go on for months or years before they result in a sale. Though its dynamics are a little different, Foursquare could work similarly for Cadillac.

Our take? This may not be the sort of thing that pays off next week or even next year, but it's an interesting move for Cadillac -- and probably a smart one.

[Twitter, Joel]

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