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Jim Vurpillat on Cadillac's Social Media Marketing Strategy
Director of Global Marketing for Cadillac
Cadillac’s Director of Global Marketing, Jim Vurpillat, has been part of GM’s marketing organization for more than two decades, working with a variety of prominent car brands. Today, he sees social media as an important and powerful platform for building the Cadillac brand by engaging with and understanding luxury car lovers and Cadillac owners.
Social media has become a significant part of Cadillac’s marketing mix, according to Vurpillat, because it’s effective on so many levels, from brand building and consumer engagement to understanding what motivates consumer purchasing behavior and brand involvement. Cadillac is engaging both current owners and luxury car enthusiasts on two important levels—product and lifestyle.
“Listening to the voice of the customer and the aspiring customer within the social sphere and creating an ongoing dialogue have tremendous benefits for automotive manufacturers,” he says. “A high percentage of our fans are not Cadillac owners, but they give us ideas and are a big part of luxury aspiration. The longer we can keep our fans engaged with a high opinion of our brand and talking about it on the social stage, the better it is for us because it furthers the idea of aspiration.”
In the automotive market, Vurpillat says brand reputation is where social is currently having its biggest impact and influencing buyers the most.
“Just like in the old world, word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising, and social magnifies that,” he says. “People are very proud of their cars, and they are very proud of their purchases. So when they go to social media sites and talk about their new car, it’s very much driving the brand and brand reputation.”
Facebook has been the most effective and engaging social channel for Cadillac. Twitter is also effective, but it is used more to drive people to other channels where Cadillac can have more extended interactions. His organization is also using Instagram and video sites effectively.
“We see auto makers using all of these channels, each a little differently,” he says. “But in the end, it comes down to what your objectives are and which channel is the best t to achieve those objectives.”
New product introductions tend to drive the most engagement and are where Cadillac is investing the most in social campaigns. The brand has a developed strong understanding of the themes and conversations that drive interest and engagement. For example, a racing program will drive conversation with performance enthusiasts while others engage around themes related to design and lifestyle.
“What’s really positive for us is that things like design, performance and technology are very important to both our brand and the luxury lifestyle,” he says. “They are all things that drive our fan base.”
Cadillac also closely monitors and stays in touch with the many online Cadillac forums that exist. Its social team jumps in to answer questions and address issues whenever necessary, but Cadillac is moving closer to the idea of building an online community of its own in the future.
Vurpillat believes the auto industry and Cadillac itself are becoming increasingly sophisticated about social media. In addition to Cadillac, he points to Audi and BMW as two luxury brands that are doing a good job in the area of social media.
To add additional luxury appeal, he adds that Cadillac looks outside of the auto space to brands such as Burberry, Chanel and Louis Vuitton for inspiration.
“There’s always more that you can do, and I think that’s the great thing about this space,” he says. “It’s ever-evolving and changing, and now we have so much more data and analytics behind the social channel. It helps you get a better understanding of the customer and what drives engagement with the brand. If you listen well enough, you’ll understand what really excites people about your brand. It’s like instant feedback from a focus group.”