During the Oscars ceremony telecast, ABC network charged around $1.95 million for each 30-second spot, and Cadillac bought four commercial breaks. It means the General Motors brand paid well over $10 million for this prime time airing, which included a 60-second ad that aired twice and starred Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

This is why: the General Motors brand is looking to reinvent itself, and it kicked off the new era right there at the Oscars ceremony, on Sunday. They want you to be curious about the new CT6 luxury sedan they're unveiling in April at the New York Auto Show. They want you to know that Cadillac has a new spirit and attitude. 

The 60-second ad was "The Daring: No regrets" and featured one of the most admired tech moguls in the world, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, among other "daring" faces. The soundtrack was Edith Piaf's "Non, Je ne regrette rien" (No, I regret nothing), and it showed different people in slow-motion, asking questions for each one of them.

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"How dare a Wall Street analyst fight disease with DNA," it read, showing Anne Wojcicki, from startup 23andMe.

"How dare a director take 12 years to shoot one film,",the ad continued as Richard Linklater, director of Oscar-nominated 'Boyhood', moved slowly in the picture.

"How dare a college dropout invent the personal computer", it proclaimed while Steve Wozniak is lying on a sofa listening to music.

It's only at the end of the advert that  you realize it's a Cadillac commercial, when the new CT6 shows briefly with New York in the background. The 112-year-old car-maker promises to reinvent itself, and ends the ad stating: "Only those who dare, drive the world forward." So, the message is, "dare greatly."

And consumers did. That's what AutoTrader, the online car marketplace, found out shortly after the airing of the commercials, calling it a "solid performance." The company says that:

  • An hour after the first spot was aired, car searches for Cadillac vehicles on AutoTrader had climbed 53% from pre-Academy Award coverage levels; and
  • Searches by shoppers who searched for specific Cadillac vehicles rose 120%, compared with shopping levels before the awards show started.

"The fact that shoppers flocked online to not only the brand, but to both Cadillac sedans as well as utilities suggests the ads did the job of arousing the curiosity of shoppers wondering what's going on at Cadillac," said Rick Wainschel, vice president of Customer Insights at AutoTrader.

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The online platform also shared that shopping for both sedans and utilities went up after the ads, even though the sedan shown in the spot was completely unidentified - we know it's CT6, but still.

"Cadillac's Oscar performance is particularly notable since these were brand positioning ads, not commercials for specific vehicles, and yet shoppers went looking at very specific vehicles," Wainschel added. He stresses that this performance is a testament of the power of offline advertising on high-profile programs such as the Academy Awards, as it encourages shoppers to search for more information online.

The video of the ad on YouTube amassed more than 158,000 views in the first 24 hours alone, with a lot of users commenting on its brilliance. Was the money worth it? Sales of the iconic brand fell 6.5% in 2014, and GM is pouring millions into the new marketing strategy for Cadillac. Chief marketing officer Uwe Ellinghaus wants to position the brand as an inspiration. He said, before the launch of the new campaign: "Luxury brands don't sell products, they sell dreams." #Investment