Lance Jensen Talks Cadillac and Where It’s Taking American Luxury

Inside Rogue's two new CTS ads

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IDEA: What is American luxury these days? Cadillac teams with an old collaborator, Lance Jensen, as it tries to answer that question creatively in its first work from Rogue, the Interpublic Group team of Hill Holliday and Lowe Campbell Ewald.

Two new spots for the CTS sedan suggest it's more attainable than ever—and certainly just as patriotic. "You can't out-German the Germans or out-Japanese the Japanese," said Jensen, the Hill Holliday chief creative officer who shepherded Cadillac at now-defunct Modernista between 2006 and 2009. "American ingenuity, American spirit, American attitude—it all plays into our idea of the Cadillac brand."

The CTS spots celebrate that attitude explicitly. One looks back at famous American businesses that began in garages; the other features an old NASA recording as it talks about shooting for the moon. It's the beginning of a more evocative, emotional pitch for Cadillac.

"The brand is growing, and most of it is product-driven," said client spokesman David Caldwell. "We're trying to take that and not just be declarative about it. We want to connect to the more emotional, personality-driven characteristics we know are in the brand. It's putting the two together."

COPYWRITING: "I think their strength is their incredible simplicity. They just needed to be done elegantly," Jensen said of "Garages" and "Moon."

The former shows garages of all shapes and sizes, as a voiceover explains: "The Wright Brothers started in a garage. Amazon started in a garage. Hewlett-Packard and Disney both started in garages. Mattel started in a garage. The Ramones started in a garage." Then, a CTS is seen zooming out of its own giant stone bunker. "My point?" says the VO. "You never know what kind of greatness can come out of an American garage. Introducing the 2014 Motor Trend Car of the Year. The all-new Cadillac CTS. Ain't garages great?"

"Moon" is even simpler. A father, with his son in the back, drives a CTS down dark roads at night as a giant moon rises on the horizon. "A funny thing happens when you shoot for the moon. You get there," says the voiceover. Both spots close with the Cadillac logo. There is no tagline.

"The 'Garages' spot is the American dream in 30 seconds, and it's all true," said Jensen, adding that it should appeal nicely to Cadillac's target—optimists with a "bigness of spirit." The copy in "Moon," he said, refers to both product and consumer—the engineering of the vehicles and the lofty ambitions of its target.

FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Station Film's Dom & Nic shot "Garages." RESET's Garth Davis did "Moon." "There are really nice productions values. The car shoots well. The angles are great. They're simple and clean and not trying too hard," Jensen said of the visual look.

The shot of the moon is particularly striking. "We wanted it to look like magical realism," he said. "That's part of the reason we have a kid in the car. A kid can see things differently than us jaded old guys. The moon is a magical thing when you're young. It's supposed to be a beautiful, almost transcendent moment."

TALENT: Casting for "Moon" wasn't overly complex. "We just wanted a cool guy and a good-looking kid with some presence. He's quite mature for a little dude," Jensen said.

The actor Neal McDonough does the voiceover on both ads. "I wanted something clean and flexible, with confidence and a little bit of authority in there," Jensen said.

SOUND: The soundtrack on "Moon" is the lush, echoey "Stars" by Ulrich Schnauss. "I've liked that song for a long time. It felt good, like it would get you someplace," said Jensen. The song in "Garages" is "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio" by the Ramones.

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Client: Cadillac

Agency: Rogue (Hill Holliday, Lowe Campbell Ewald)

Spot: "Moon"

Chief Creative Officer: Lance Jensen

Executive Creative Director, Copy: David Banta

Group Creative Director, Art: Kevin Daley

Group Creative Director, Copy: Jeff Baxter

Creative Director, Art: Bob Gates

Director of Creative Production: Bryan Sweeney

Executive Broadcast Producer: Scott Hainline

Account Team: Cliff Stevens, Megan Wiggin, Emily Shahady, Kalyn Barnum

Production Company: RESET

Executive Producer: Jeff McDougall

Head of Production: Amanda Clune

Bidding Producer: Jen Beitler

Producer: Karen Sproul

Director: Garth Davis

Managing Director: Dave Morrison

Staff Coordinator: Heinrich Meyer

Production Supervisor: Jessica Lee

Edit House: The Whitehouse Post

Editor: Rick Lawley

Executive Producer: Lauren Hertzberg

Licensed Music: NASA Audio File and Ulrich Schnauss "Stars"

Executive Post Producer: Kirsten Anderson

Conform & VFX Company: Brickyard

Spot: "Great Things Happen in Garages"

Chief Creative Officer: Lance Jensen

Executive Creative Director: David Banta

Group Creative Director: Kevin Daley

Copywriter: David Banta

Art Director: Kevin Daley

Director of Creative Production: Bryan Sweeney

Account Team: Cliff Stevens, Melissa Buck, Emily Shahady

Project Manager: Julie Heger

Planner: Anne Feighan, Allie Pirolli

Production Company: Station Film

Executive Producer: Stephen Orent, Caroline Gibney, Michael Di Girolamo

Producer: John Madsen

Director: Dom & Nic

Cinematographer (DOP): John Lynch

Line Producer: Angela Jones

Edit House: Final Cut

Editor: Rick Russell

Executive Producer: Lauren Bleiweiss

Post Producer: Beth Fitzpatrick

Licensed Music: "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio" by the Ramones

Publisher: WB Corp ℅ Warner Chappell Music

Master: Warner Music Group/ Rhino: Music Producer

Sound Engineer: Brian Heidebrecht, Soundtrack Boston

Post Supervisor: Ellen Schmitt

Post Producer: Kirsten Anderson

VFX Company: Brickyard

VFX Team: Sean Mclean, Jimi Simmons, Geoff Mcauliffe

Animation Director: Anders Beer

Other Credits: Andy Rhodes (production design)

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.