What’s in a Name? Some Advice for the Folks at Cadillac


It’s a comeback story worthy of a Rocky remake. I’m referring to the way that Cadillac has returned from the brink of ruin over the past few years. Often, these rise-like-a-phoenix stories are nothing more than marketing hype, but this time it’s for real. Not only is the iconic luxury automaker paying its own bills, but it is also competing successfully against heavyweights such as BMW and Mercedes. For example, in 2011 Kelley’s Blue Book awards, Cadillac took top honors in three major categories: Best Exterior Design, Best Comfort Brand, and Best Interior Design.

If someone had told the automotive press in the early 2000s that Cadillac would be besting the Germans in building great luxury and performance vehicles, then he would have gotten a hearty round of laughs and probably a referral to a good psychiatrist. But nobody’s snickering at the Caddy brand now. The suits at corporate HQ have not only revitalized the company’s current offerings, word on the street is that they’re hard at work on a series of large-platform models that will go head-to-head with major players like the Mercedes Benz S-Class. Not only is Rocky back on his feet, he’s getting ready to knock Ivan Drago on his butt.

While we applaud Cadillac’s remarkable comeback, we would like to offer our always-humble opinion on how it can further enhance its brand. One of the things that sets the classic vehicles apart was what they were called. After all, when Shakespeare said, “what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” he proved that marketing was not his forte. Take the prettiest, most fragrant flower in the world, call it “essence of ass-crack,” and no one will find its aroma appealing.

Cadillac El Dorado

Nor do alphabet-soup titles like ATS or SRX convey the romance, luxury, or sheer excitement of the models they represent. In their place, we recommend GM consider reviving these monikers from the 1950s:

• Cadillac Debutante – 1950
• Cadillac LaSalle II Roadster – 1955
• Cadillac Westchester – 1955
• Cadillac El Dorado Brougham Town Car – 1956
• Cadillac Cyclone (a great name for a high-performance luxury car) – 1959

Bringing these blasts-from-the-past back to life would add sizzle to GM’s steak. They would also make the new Caddies sound as great as they look and perform, and that would a good thing in our increasingly image-conscious society. In fact, I’m considering changing my name from the everyday “Bill Wilson” to something like “Alexander Lafayette Vandenberg the Third.” What do you think?

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