One To Watch Unfold: Cadillac, EVs, and Black Audiences

As it turns out, Black car buyers are just not that interested in EVs right now.

16 September 2021

With increasing frequency, we’re noticing marketers who make interesting moves in the advertising space that piques our curiosity. This time it’s the Cadillac brand from General Motors, their latest electric vehicle LYRIQ, and their use of Black talent on camera.  We’re not saying that the Cadillac moves are right or wrong, just that they’re one to watch unfold– for possibly good reason.

Thumbing through some advertising trade publisher content, the news that multiple-award winning actress and director Regina King will appear in the new television commercial introducing the 2023 Cadillac LYRIQ, the company’s first all-electric SUV, captures our attention.  Watch the spot by clicking HERE or the image below:

You might recall that last year Ms. King was featured behind the wheel of the, then, newest Cadillac Escalade.  It ran in parallel to a similar TV spot featuring Dominican Republic-born film director Jessy Terrero who leaned into Hispanic audiences.  Has Regina moved on from fossil fuel to electric vehicles so quickly?  Is Jessy next?

Our curiosity is not in the use of a beautiful and luxurious Black women to plug the equally beautiful and luxurious Cadillac.  In fact, our research suggests that Cadillac is successful in driving interest and appeal for its Cadillac brand among Black audiences.  As per the chart below, Cadillac moved nine percentage points in three years among Black audiences.  Our curiosity is not in the use of Ms. King.  She’s a terrific selection who connects with audiences far wider than her ethnicity. 

Furthermore, Black audiences have a high-propensity to buy luxury vehicles. As per the chart below, Blacks account for 15-percent of Lincoln prospects (index 126) and 23-percent of some well-known foreign luxury import vehicles (index 162) including Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz.

Our bewilderment is in the use of an electric vehicle (EV) made by Cadillac that is being plugged by Black talent on-camera that could be easily construed as an attempt to sell the LYRIQ to Black audiences. The Cadillac LYRIQ TV spot featuring Ms. King is not the only of its kind. There is another spot that debuted earlier this year that, also, features a Black female as the main character.  Watch it HERE or click on the image below. The story-telling here is a terrific, copy is awesome, and the visuals are strong.

As it turns out, Black car buyers are just not that interested in EVs right now.  As a chart illustrates below, Blacks account for 10% of Tesla prospects (index 79). They also account for 5-percent of a grouping of other EV prospects (index 41) that includes BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius. Most of these vehicles are not considered very stylish, sexy, or luxurious which likely serves as a deterrent to Black audiences.  If you look closer at the charts below, you will see that Asian audiences are having an over-sized appetite for EVs.  They account for 11-percent of Tesla prospects (index 267) and 8-percent of other EVs (index 187). 

The below chart illustrates that Black audiences agree with so many others that any product that pollutes the environment should be banned (index 119).   Lead poisoning of water in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere that has directly affecting people of color has been an awful discovery of recent. Landfills, hazardous waste sites, and other industrial facilities are most often located in communities of color. These are just a few things that are top-of-mind of Black audiences.  In a related side note, it’s White (index 118) and Hispanic (index 110) audiences who have a higher propensity to feel that they are more environmentally conscious than others.

The tepid interest in EVs by Blacks doesn’t stop there. They lag in participation for environmental causes or groups (index 55) as do Hispanics (index 68).  To clarify, participation by these two audiences has been rising over the past few years fueled by higher education and income.

Blacks slightly trail behind other audience groups in purchasing environmentally friendly products (index 91) or contributing to environmental organizations (index 42).  We find that Black audiences are smart, savvy shoppers who question the premium pricing of many environmentally-friendly products.  Furthermore, transparency of donations combined with misallocation of resources (“in my community”) is likely swaying Black, Asians, and Hispanics away from donating to environmental organizations that are already viewed too White.

Let’s see if Cadillac is onto something and can create a cultural movement in EVs.  More specifically, can General Motors effectively lure Black prospects to buy the beautiful, luxurious LYRIQ. If there was ever a time for them to become fans of EVs, this is it. That car and the advertising is too hot and perfect.  As we said at the start, this is one to watch unfold.


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