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Ellinghaus Defends New Direction of Cadillac’s Marketing Strategy

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Cadillac has announced a number of big changes over the last few months; its move to New York and its new naming system have been among the most contentious. And despite the fact that these ideas were already in motion before the new president, Johan de Nyscchen, and new chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, joined the team, they have become the scapegoats for the biggest critics of the brand’s new direction.

Ellinghaus Defends New Direction of Cadillac’s Marketing Strategy

Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer, Uwe Ellinghaus

It didn’t help either when Uwe Ellinghaus spoke with Ad Age at the Los Angeles Auto Show and said, “We want to build the first luxury brand that happens to make cars.” Critics were quick to chime in on his vision of Cadillac’s marketing strategy. Among them were Peter M. De Lorenzo of Auto Extremist, who wrote, “Cadillac is a luxury brand. But Cadillac does in fact make luxury cars.”

Things got worse when Melody Lee, of Ellinghaus’ team in New York, told Fortune, “We want to be a global luxury brand that happens to sell cars. We don’t want to be an automotive brand.”

After hordes and hordes of editorial vultures picked on what were thought to be the remains of these Cadillac execs, however, Ellinghaus rose from the ground to fight back. This time, he sat down with Forbes to further justify Cadillac’s marketing strategy.

By no means is he “implying that the product is no longer essential for creating a great brand out of Cadillac. There are no great brands without great products.” In fact, it is a commonly held belief by auto experts that Cadillac already has great products, the best it’s ever had. There are some holes to fill, of course, like compact SUVs and an entry into the premium segment, but Cadillac’s lineup will be greatly expanding over the next few years.

Ellinghaus remarked, “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.”

He added, “You cannot simply overcome lacking relevance by stressing facts and figures [about] the product substance, like rattling off awards and public praise. Prospects would not listen. They turn the page when they see that the ad is coming from Cadillac. They are not going online [to Cadillac]; they are not going to dealerships.”

Ultimately, Ellinghaus’ vision for Cadillac’s marketing strategy is what is in the brand’s best interest, despite feedback from critics. And even if wasn’t for the best, there’s really no going back now. According to Forbes, he’s already implemented a new campaign that will launch early next year.