The simplified (yet dry) alpha-numeric naming schemes, the-move-to-New-York-City-announcement, the pricing increases, the new Crest logo, dealer restructuring and so forth… there’s been a lot of big news revolving around the Cadillac brand this year, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. A new chapter is beginning for Cadillac, one that is both alienating and necessary. It has sparked heated debate through multiple outlets, even calling in direct response from both seasoned automotive journalists and Cadillac executives themselves. A lot of the blame, and credit, has been pointed toward Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen, who left Infiniti to join GM’s ranks earlier this year.
de Nysschen’s resumé has made him out to be an industry maverick of sorts, but the successes of his techniques speak for themselves. His time quarterbacking Audi North America helped buoy the brand up to where Cadillac currently wishes it was. While in charge of Infiniti, he was named responsible for the new “Q” naming structure, and uprooting Infiniti’s headquarters from Yokohama, Japan to plant it in central Hong Kong. The verdict is still out to see if that plan will work, yet de Nysschen is no longer with Infiniti to see it out.
With de Nysschen at Cadillac, it seems to be a repeat of Infiniti in terms of methodology (change the names, headquarters, etc.), while hoping that the brand’s equity will also take off to match Germany’s from its launchpad of big changes. But sometimes rockets explode and crash in flames right after takeoff. For 112 year-old Cadillac, nobody aside from the comically cynical hopes that to be true. Yet ultimately, de Nysschen didn’t blueprint this shuttle. He’s acting more like Houston.
Guiding the launch.
Back when General Motors first trademarked the CT6 and CT5 names, de Nysschen was officially hired 10 days before the filing. This was too soon for him to tear up Cadillac’s naming book, brainstorm new ones, and order them in. And while the September New York City headquarters announcement came in months after his July 2014 hiring, Cadillac communications officials mentioned to us in autumn that de Nysschen didn’t invent that idea, either. And he wasn’t even hired yet when previous generation Cadillac CTS owners voiced complaints that the new one is too expensive when the MSRP was announced.
Rather, the big moves done by Cadillac go beyond the brand’s new President, and were most likely in developmental stages for months, if not years, before his recruitment. And if GM’s play callers want Cadillac to adopt a new naming structure, relocate cities, elevate its pricing, and switch marketing tactics all in an effort to reinvent itself and beat the segment-leading Germans at their own game, there is nobody better than Johan de Nysschen to see it through. Whether it’s all the right course of action, however, remains to be seen.