Detroit’s been quick to criticize Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen and Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus, despite de Nysschen’s new colleague and him having little to do with the majority of the changes at the company. They have been accused of not acknowledging the quality of Cadillac’s products after stating they want to create “a luxury brand that happens to make cars,” a statement which he defended in a recent interview with Forbes.
Ellinghaus knows Cadillac has and needs to continue making competitive products, but the brand’s new cars are some of the best in its history, yet its sales are down nearly six percent so far in 2014, evidence of an image problem, he says. Lambast Ellinghaus’ “luxury brand” dreams if you want, but he’s planning on implementing this mentality throughout the entire company, right down to the dealers, which might just be for the better.
“How can someone (who knows) the industry really deny that automotive can learn so much from other industries when it comes to the retail experience or customer-relationship management? Not just luxury brands (but) even hotels or airlines do a better job in bonding (with) customers and creating touch points,” Ellinghaus told Forbes, addressing Cadillac’s dealer experience, an aspect of the company that will also have to undergo extreme changes if it wishes to grow to the size of other luxury automakers.
“We currently see in our sales performance in the U.S. that even the best products in the world do not sell by themselves. Our cars win awards and have terrific feedback from journalists and customers, but we are not reaching our sales expectations. The reason is the lacking appeal of the Cadillac brand, the lacking relevance of the brand to people’s lifestyles,” Ellinghaus said.
Saying he wants to create a “luxury brand that happens to make cars,” is just Ellinghaus’ way of voicing his vision for the company, as he tries to establish an image for Cadillac which is uniquely different from luxury rivals. Forbes says he’s putting the “finishing touches” on Cadillac’s entirely new brand platform, which will launch the previously announced marketing campaign early next year.