Cadillac did not unveil a flashy new vehicle or concept at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, but it’s because the brand is very busy plotting its next moves to return to glory.
Melody Lee, Cadillac Brand Director, sat down with Campaign to discuss how she plans to lead the brand’s turnaround. In short, she has given herself 10 years to begin seeing the results she expects will occur.
It’s a “10-year plan,” she said. “It requires an enormous amount of patience, taking the long view, and sticking with the strategy no matter the naysayers.”
Lee and her branding techniques have come under fire multiple times by automotive media and Cadillac enthusiasts alike who think the lack of vision is disturbing. However, we’re only beginning to see the start of a master plan, according to Lee.
Specifically, she was asked how her work is engaging younger, potential Cadillac customers. To that, she responded:
One of the things that we have going for us at Cadillac is a sense of emotional appeal. Our competitors often differentiate themselves on technology, on engineering prowess, on technical ability. There’s no denying that they are very, very good at delivering against that with their products.
There is no good brand without good product. There is also no good product without a good brand. My focus is the brand simply because what I want to do is make the brand so compelling that a customer comes to us and says, “Which Cadillac should I drive?” Because you can talk about the attributes of any product until you’re blue in the face, but if Cadillac is not a brand for them, then I haven’t done my job.
It’s more about lifestyle and a dream than the car itself. You’re seeing this resurgence of American luxury really coming back again. American luxury is meant to be used. It’s not that old-world luxury that’s put in a glass box or on a pedestal or worshiped or put away in the closet to be passed down. It’s stuff you use. I think that’s where we really are trying to differentiate ourselves, to make you feel something when you drive a Cadillac.
Lee wants her branding to come across as “real” and authentic in nature, leading her to choose brand influencers who are not household names. On the flip side of things, she’s working to make Cadillac synonymous with luxury by creating luxury culture spaces that happen to be tied in with Cadillac. Think Cadillac House and its many exhibits and functions.
Ten years is a long time, and we’ve yet to see how Cadillac will truly grow under its current executive team. If last year’s sales results are anything to go on, Cadillac is making improvements, but it’s still far from the top.