Cadillac’s NYC Art and Fashion House Is Designed to Lure Customers Without the Hard Sell

Coffee, clothing—and, oh yeah, cars

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Many brands are ditching traditional marketing tactics and creating interactive spaces to connect with potential customers, minus the sales pitch. And the latest example is Cadillac House, a permanent space highlighting the brand's intersection with art, fashion and design.

The 12,000-square-foot space, located on the ground floor of the company's headquarters in New York's SoHo neighborhood, is part coffee shop, part art gallery and part fashion pop-up store—with gleaming new Cadillac cars and SUVs at its center. When it opens in June, the house will host events and vehicle exhibitions through a partnership with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and the art magazine Visionaire.

While Cadillac staff will be on hand to answer questions, the space isn't designed to sell cars, said Melody Lee, Cadillac's director of brand marketing. 

"Our challenge is to make it so that someone can actually see themselves in a Cadillac. To do that, they have to find the brand relevant to their lifestyle," she said. "Being relevant means being culturally relevant. Customers already are interested in art and film and fashion, and this is intended to make it easier for them to have their interests intersect with the Cadillac brand."

Cadillac House's art gallery will feature a rotating selection of artists, the first of which, Geoffrey Lillemon, was the creative director on Miley Cyrus' Bangerz World Tour. Visionaire will help select other artists to share their work in the space.

Joe Coffee will serve a specially made Cadillac House blend in the space, and up-and-coming fashion designers will sell their wares at a pop-up shop starting in early July. Retail Lab, as it's called, is part of Cadillac and CFDA's mentoring and merchandising program that gives real-world experience to designers.

The space, particularly Retail Lab, supports Cadillac's recent advertising campaign, "Dare Greatly," which spotlights successful young entrepreneurs in technology and creative fields.

"We're giving designers the opportunity to take their businesses to the next level, and it's really true to our 'Dare Greatly' thematic," Lee said. "It's one thing to slap a logo on a banner and call it a sponsorship. This lets us actually sponsor people to do daring things and take risks that they might not otherwise have the means to take."

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.