New Car Smells Aimed at Boomers

Five old ladies are wearing hand held masks and being sprayed the the scents used to help sell used Cadillacs.

As of late, GM has shown a refreshing level of transparency when it comes to the inherent struggles of the Cadillac brand. Victimized in the public eye by damning headlines like, “Can Cadillac ever get its groove back?” and “Cadillac’s Last Stand,” there’s been little secret that the brand has found it difficult to maintain, let alone define, their target demographic in 2019. This has, of course, challenged the ability to move both new and used Cadillacs.

Believe it or not, there had once been a time when the act of purchasing (or even the ability to purchase) a Cadillac represented the ultimate in automotive aspirations. At that time, the Cadillac name (much like caviar, fur coats, cocaine, and American Express) had become synonymous with wealth, status, and an appreciation for the finer things in life. But those days have been gone for some time. With other brands having risen in esteem, and the Cadillac’s most relevant model (The Escalade) being more commonly associated with urban lifestyles, there’s been little opportunity to restore Cadillac to its prior glory. That is, of course, until now.

Bridging the Generational Gap

The generational divide is a funny thing. Having been born in late 1977, I count myself among younger ‘Gen-Xers,’ while some classify my age group as ‘X-ennials’ (meaning that we’re not quite ‘Gen-X’ and not quite ‘Millennials’). Speaking realistically, it’s all semantics, isn’t it? And yet, we’re witnessing a stateside war between Millennials and Baby Boomers, where the people of my generation seem to be caught in the crossfire.

So What Do We Do?

Observe silently? Seek cover in an attempt at self-preservation? Or do we make it a point to deliver solutions? It’s an interesting conundrum, but it would appear that we’re collectively favoring the third option. How? By finding common ground in appreciating the exploits of four Miami-based retirees in the 1980’s.

Dorthy Zbornak. Blanche Devereaux. Rose Nylund. Sophia Petrillo. If you’re under the age of 32 and recognize these names, chances are you’re among the hipster youth who have considered dying your hair gray. But whether you are, or aren’t, we are, of course, talking about NBC’s classic series ‘The Golden Girls,’ a dated sitcom gem which seems to have found a new audience among younger Millennials. Faster than you say “Dorothy in the Streets, Blanche in the Sheets,” young adults have been tuning in and snatching up both novelty and mainstream merchandise, which celebrates the series.

And why wouldn’t it? After all, in the landscape of dated sitcoms that hardly age well, ‘The Golden Girls’ is revered as one of the most progressive programs of its time. Take a look for yourself (if you can stand some of the sped-up and pitch-shifted audio).

But it’s also indicative of a wider phenomenon. In some bizarre show of anti-Boomer rebellion, Millennials are emulating the Traditionalist generation of their grandparents. The writing has been on the wall for years, be it in the retro nature of hipster fashions or in the de-electrification of popular music.

But What Does This Mean?

Well, with the recent romanticization of senior citizen trappings of the 1980s, how long until Cadillac once more becomes a compelling brand in the eyes of the largest consumer segment in America? How much longer until Cadillac looks back at a few years of record sales, and with little choice but to look its Millennial fan base square in the eyes and say, “Hey. Thank you for being a friend.”

“Smells Like Old People” for Young People

So it’s no surprise that GM has a partner in the creation of newly branded Cadillac car scents, designed to evoke the classic smells associated with senior citizens. And it’s a smart move, too. Simply by creating that mental / emotional connection, GM is sowing the seeds of potential future sales, ready for that moment when the millennials choose to bite.

According to GM Director of Experience Faye McCulloch, “Millennial consumers have always valued the overall experience, over an isolated product. It’s with this in mind that Cadillacs will now feature these signature scents, to help optimize our brand’s celebration of the nostalgic bond between our new consumer base and their beloved grandparents.

An old lady is driving a used Cadillac with an eye cover over her eyes.

So, be prepared. If you’re considering a test drive in a Cadillac, you might find one of these iconic scents, from ‘Musty Mothballs’ to ‘Nursing Home Delight,’ ‘Pappy’s Butterscotch’ to ‘Those Strawberry Hard Candies,’ and even the classic ‘New Car / Old Person Smell’ there are plenty of all-season scents to be enjoyed. But new seasonal scents are also expected. Consider the natural aromas of ‘August Adult Diaper’ and ‘Septegenarian Halitosis,’ sure to help you think of those special seniors in your life.

One thing’s for certain — it’s a bold move and one that ushers in a whole new era of the Cadillac experience.


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