Strategist

Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

Fast Company's Insight Into How an Account Planner Works

I highly recommend picking up a copy of the February issue of Fast Company. It has a few great articles about people who have forgone the traditional career path by working in unrelated industries and changing job functions every few years. As someone who switched careers, I'm often asked why I made the switch and told to show how the skills I learned as an art buyer translate to account planning. Although I wish I had discovered planning sooner, there's no question that my past experiences as an art buyer and experiences outside of work have helped me in my planning career. In addition to their feature article, The Secrets of Generation Flux, Fast Company profiles an account planner at the Minneapolis agency Fallon, Veda Partalo on how she helped re-invent Cadillac and boost sales. Possibly her most telling insight into the Cadillac consumer came when she interviewed valets at nice restaurants in major cities throughout the US. See how she takes various data points from her own experiences and first hand interviews and translates it into an insight that she turns into a strategy.

Cadillac Turns To A 28-Year-Old To Reinvent The 'Standard Of The World'

BY: DAN SLATERJanuary 9, 2012

To break from its past, Caddy turned to someone who is different in every way.
Veda Partalo and a Caddy. Together, they almost look like an advertisement. | Photo by Michael EdwardsVeda Partalo and a Caddy. Together, they almost look like an advertisement. | Photo by Michael Edward

The woman in my passenger seat says to kill the engine and restart it. I do, igniting a deep humming gurgle that crescendos, enveloping us in the reverberating neigh of 556 supercharged horses. The dials go green. The needles flutter past the redline. My audio-somatosensory experience has been fine-tuned to elicit maximum dopamine release, to provide an experience so radically unique that I might see an ancient thing in a modern light--even something as fossilized as the 110-year-old "Standard of the World," that old floaty boat, the Cadillac.

"I wanted you to experience that," says my passenger, 28-year-old Veda Partalo, planning director at Minneapolis-based Fallon, the ad agency tasked with completing Cadillac's decade-long makeover. It was proof: The car whose blinker your grandfather left on for miles--the car overtaken by Mercedes-Benz in the '70s, by BMW in the '80s, and by Lexus in the '90s, when rising prosperity meant rising demand for foreign stuff--is gone.

The new line, evolving since the 1999 Escalade, is beautifully tricked out. But in the car-selling business, particularly the luxury market, mechanics are not enough. Everything is shiny and fast. So Caddy has a unique marketing challenge: How do you shed the old stuffy image that brought it down 40 years ago and yet retain the thing that once made it great?