Cadillac CMO Uwe Ellinghaus joined the 113-year old brand a little over a year ago, and he’s so far helped to implement some major changes at the company. The automaker dropped its old ad agency in favor of Publicis Worldwide and recently launched not only a new ad campaign, but an entirely different brand identity. Ellinghaus recently caught up with Adweek to discuss the big moves he’s making and what else he’s helped change at Cadillac.
The biggest change Ellinghaus has applied has been in Cadillac’s communications. He says the brand had gone through so many changes in the past, it no longer knew what it wanted to be.
“Whatever you think of Cadillac’s history in communicating what this brand is all about, you do not find focus, you do not find consistency, you do not find continuity over time,” Ellinghaus told Adweek. “These virtues count far more for building a brand than earth-shattering creativity. So I needed to change the mindset that we do not simply need a new campaign; we need to identify what we want this brand to stand for.”
Uwe says he envisions Cadillac as being “a little louder than the sober Germans,” and “more distinctive and expressive in our designs—boldness is a good word for it.” He also says Cadillac was not self-confident enough in the past to say “we are American, and this is a good thing,” which is an attitude Ellinghaus hopes to encourage during his time with the brand.
Adweek also inquired about Cadillac’s ‘Dare Greatly’ ad campaign, asking Ellinghaus if he’s concerned the commercials, which show an upscale neighborhood in New York City, will alienate buyers in the midwest or other parts of the country that aren’t similar to NYC.
“Of course, there’s always a risk (you’ll alienate viewers). But the vast majority of luxury buyers tend to live on the coasts,” Ellinghaus explained. “It’s an intriguing backdrop—eclectic, contemporary, old yet renovated. The Germans have a tendency to go to the latest architectural masterpiece and use that as a backdrop. They can’t take a New York backdrop. We can. We’re American.”
Ellinghaus seems keen to use Cadillac’s American-ness as a platform for promoting the brand and getting luxury buyers excited about it. As long as his idea of “American” isn’t anything like the guy from Cadillac’s ‘Poolside’ ELR ad, he should be just fine. Check out his full Q&A with Adweek here.