Cadillac Test Drive Miles Promotion Pulled Early: What Happened?

At the beginning of the month I spoke with American AAdvantage President Suzanne Rubin and Cadillac’s Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus about the new marketing tie up between the two companies.

American launched Cadillac tarmac transfers for their top ‘Concierge Key’ customers making tight connections at certain airports. And they shared that a promotion was coming, offering 7500 American miles for test driving a Cadillac.

I noted at the time that,

Suzanne said that the offer would last about two months, but both she and Ellinghaus said they were going to evaluate how the promotion worked in deciding when it might end and whether to continue it.

The promotion first went live on October 15.

As of yesterday, the promotion has closed.

Thanks for your interest. The Cadillac test drive program is now closed.

The program may be closed, but you can still experience the exceptional Cadillac lineup.

That’s about 9 days. Something didn’t go according to plan..

Here are some possible scenarios:

  1. The promotion was oversubscribed. Cadillac budgeted a certain amount for the promotion, wildly underestimating the demand for mileage-induced test drives. They spent their marketing budget much more quickly than planned.
  2. The promotion wasn’t quite ready for prime time. When it first launched, telephone hold times to schedule a test drive were running over an hour. It’s possible that Cadillac wasn’t providing the service foot forward that they wanted to and didn’t want to spend money to market a poor test drive experience. Note that this could be related to #1.
  3. They didn’t sell very many cars. Lots of test drives but much lower conversion than anticipated. They modeled that a certain number of people on the lot would translate to a predictable number of sales, but actual sales were so far below projection that the marketing spend didn’t make sense for the company.

Of course it could be something else entirely, and I reached out to American to ask, but I don’t expect they’ll comment on the business strategy decisions that their partners have made. So we may not know exactly why this ended after 9 days. I’m pretty sure, though, that it wasn’t expected to be so short-lived.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Is this closure just for new registrants do you think. Just took my test drive yesterday – do you think my 7,500 will post.
    I registered my wife for a teat drive at noon today edt. Should we bother driving to the dealership?

  2. If we registered are we still in if we haven’t taken the test drive? Or is it over even if we registered?

  3. I went for the test drive just for the miles, however found the ATS such a nice car that I ended up buying one for my daughter.
    Needless to say I had no intention of buying at the beggining but the bait worked up well for Cadillac in my case.

  4. I wonder if Manchester United’s poor results have anything to do with having Chevrolet as their sponsor.

  5. @ken – cadillac will have the ability to post miles for many months, that’s standard in these mileage purchase deals, the company continues to post miles even after a deal ends — they are required to continue to fulfill earned or committed miles.

  6. It was a mess. Our dealer was inundated by miles hounds and didn’t even really want to do the test drive. That was fine with me but very disappointing to my car crazed husband, who is exactly the kind of car buy Cadillac should want. He left with a diminished impression of the brand.

    My mom’s dealer had no idea what this was and spent/wasted tons of time sorting it out.

  7. I did the test drive on the first or second day, but the dealer couldn’t post my completion at first because the website claimed that my AA number was invalid. (It’s not!) Eventually, they got the completion noted, but whether I will get the miles is an open question still.

  8. It’s interesting that this promo ended early but from memory the $100 promo didn’t end early and that got A LOT more exposure.

    I wonder if miles/points enthusiasts converts lower than people chasing free cash? I don’t understand why Cadillac doesn’t run targeted promotions. These open promotions must be useless for car sales.

  9. I signed up for the promotion online on the 17th, was told the dealer would call me on Monday the 20th. On Tuesday I called them, and the test drive scheduler had never heard of it, but was able to set me up with a drive that afternoon. My points already posted, I think sometime last night. Pretty shocked add I’m still waiting for the life lock bonus from August…

  10. Signed up via online chat. Went a couple of days later. Drive a car that’s a direct competitor to the CTS, so genuinely wanted to see what the CTS was like. Arrived, said I had a test drive appt, they asked if I was there for the American Airlines thing, I said yes, they took down my phone number and email address and made a copy of my driver’s license and said they would give it to the GM, then shook my hand and showed me the door. Tells me everything I need to know about how the program went, at least in my neck of the woods.

  11. I called on Weds, and was told there were only 5000 spots available and they already had over 4000. So, I ran to the dealership on Fri. The salesman didn’t know about the promotion, but the office did. He copied my license, and filled out a paper. I was done in 5 min.

  12. As I said before,I went for the miles and ended up buying a car but I am probably one of the very few. This is a bad promo, whomever designed it should be fired.
    A win win promo would be something like this: Test drive a Cadillac and if you end up buying or leasing a car within 30 days, Cadillac will give you 50,000 AA miles.

  13. I signed up on the first day. I was told the dealer would be contacting me. They never did, so I chatted with Cadillac again before I bothered to go in to make sure this was a go. Chat rep said yes. So, I go in, and they’ve never heard of me or the promo. I resigned up through chat, and again the dealer has not contacted me. I don’t think I’ll waste my time again showing up at the dealer. I already did not think highly of GM, but this mess drives the point home, especially as this is supposed to be their premium product. However, I am a ‘car’ person, and was open to taking a look at their new products.

  14. I test drove in Los Angeles and might end up buying a SRX. But the sales man revealed to me that most people have no interest in buying a car, just wanting the miles.

  15. My 7500 posted. Not sure exactly how soon since I hadn’t checked, though it’s been less than 72 hours. Posted with activity date 10/17 (date I booked), not date of the test drive (10/22).

  16. Enrolled by phone on 10/22 for an 11AM drive on 10/24. Nobody knew anything about the promo, or my appointment, upon arrival. I explained it, took the test drive in an ATS turbo (nicer than expected vs. my 2011 BMW 328i) and then met with the GSM who had contacted program HQ. The email reply he got said I’d already been to another dealer! Nope. They got it straightened out after I left and a woman from the dealership called to say things were OK now. So, less than professional from Cadillac, very professional from the staff at Southtowne Cadillac-GMC, the dealership.

  17. The original promotion said ‘while supplies last’. It’s clear all available slots for the promotion have been taken for a nationwide promotion. If you got in, you’re in.

    Promos like this should be for PLTs and EXPs only.

    ED.

  18. I called the Cadillac contact number the day of your original post, Gary. There was a long hold. When a rep finally answered, I made appointments for myself and my wife — mine this past Monday, hers today (Saturday). I was told the dealership we selected (in Alexandria, VA) would contact us by phone or email to confirm both appointments. We never heard from anyone about either appointment. I called the Cadillac promotion number to be sure I had an appointment, and the phone rep said I did. I showed up at the dealer. They knew about the promotion but not about me or my time. Everything replicated precisely for my wife’s test drive today. Again today the dealer confirmed it was aware of the promotion and took my wife’s AAdvantage number — and gave no indication that she should need to be concerned about receiving the miles. So we’ll find out if we actually get credited as promised.

  19. My wife and I both registered on 10/17, only I drove, she did ride along on 10/18 and both of our points showed up in Award Wallet today! AA shows the activity on 10/17.

  20. I called the Cadillac contact number the day of your original post. I hung up after waiting ~45 minutes. Teh following day I used “gethuman.com”. It connected me about an hour later (great site). I made the appointment and at 11 AM on the day of my appointment, went to the dealer. None of their sales people knew what it was nor what to do. I took the test drive and left my business card; they were going to investigate. I called Cadillac. After a 20 minute wait, their rep confirmed my appointment and indicated they would contact the dealer and get back to me. At 3 PM that day the local dealer called me to ask when I was coming in form my test drive!!! I explained the situation. At about 4 PM Cadillac called to tell me it was taken care of. At about 4:45 PM the dealer called me to tell me it was taken care of. Teh miles posted to my account three days later. Wow, I liked the car but do not know if I cold put up with the convoluted bureaucracy. Cadillac really fumbled the ball.

  21. I scheduled our drives (wife and me) for 10/29. I called the dealer to double check the time about 2 hours before our appt time, he hadn’t seen it but told us to come in. He asked on the phone if we were interested in a car and I said no but maybe a truck (they also are a GMC dealer). We got there on time, the GM was nice. We asked to drive an Escalade, he said they had none in stock and that he’d just mark us down as having done the test drive. He tried to log into the system to mark us down but his username/pw on the site didn’t work. He submitted a helpdesk ticket to the web team and said he’d call in on Friday (he’s out today). I took his info and just called in to check and the rep said that we showed as having driven and would get the miles. I haven’t seen the miles yet but we’re early still.

    Now I wonder if they just gave miles to anyone with an appt and if going to the dealer was actually necessary 🙂

  22. It’s alive! Just received this exact offer in a targeted AAdvantage email. Have to have an invitation code and be in NYC, LA, MIA, or DFW markets.

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