Used to be that a Cadillac represented the ultimate achievement. Leonard Chess created a music empire by paying his blues and rock & roll stars with Caddys. Presidents were chauffeured in them. Corpses took their final rides in them. The word Cadillac even became an adjective, as in “the Cadillac of toasters,” or “the Cadillac of fountain pens.”
Then, like the rest of the American automobile industry, the brand fell from grace, replaced by technically superior imports from Germany, England and Japan.
Cadillac couldn’t revamp their brand and attract younger buyers without alienating the few stalwart customers they still had – retirees who appreciated the giant cars’ floaty ride and outdated looks.
But finally realizing that their core audience was dying, Cadillac bit the bullet and redesigned their cars, trading their over-inflated look for sharp angles, modern creases and a big helping of performance and design. To announce their transformation, Cadillac even licensed a Led Zeppelin song for their commercials – “Been a long time since I rock and rolled” indeed.
Now think about the Republican Party. Once the overstuffed party of corporate CEOs and the power elite, they now represent the right wing fringe and aging southern white men. Republican values and power are rapidly being replaced by the younger, sleeker and more progressive Democrats. Even though Republicans desperately need to change, their power structure is terrified to alter their brand and alienate the few voters who still support them.
But like Cadillac, the Republican Party’s choice is simple. Either change the brand and begin to attract new consumers or stick with their existing image and be relegated to the scrap heap of irrelevance.
Old and stodgy or young and sleek. The decision is easy. The implementation, though, less so.