By on December 4, 2017

Cadillac Championship edition

After overseeing the introduction of the “Dare Greatly” campaign, a move of company HQ to tony Manhattan, and an ad spot touting Super Cruise during the MTV Video Music Awards, Uwe Ellinghaus is resigning from his post as head marketing honcho at Cadillac.

Tapped by Caddy chief Bob Ferguson in 2014, Ellinghaus arrived at the luxury automaker after a stint at Montblanc International and, prior to that, nearly 15 years at BMW.

According to the industry site MediaPost, the resignation of Mr. Ellinghaus was prompted by “health issues which will require surgery and a six-month recovery.” The post went on to say he is leaving on good terms with the company and that “the door will always be open” for him.

Automotive News, which obtained an internal memo on Friday about the development, reported that Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen commended Ellinghaus for being a “steward in driving Cadillac’s brand transformation” and making “tremendous strides” in its global marketing and advertising.

Since the arrival of Ellinghaus, Cadillac has shifted its marketing from traditional ads focusing on horsepower and financing deals to creative television spots aired in places where Cadillac once feared to tread. Television spots for Super Cruise, pitching the brand’s semi-autonomous highway driving system, debuted during the MTV Video Music Awards, for example.

Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” campaign was launched not long after launched Ellinghaus took the marketing reins at the company. Those ads first appeared during the 2015 Academy Awards, with a total of four television spots introducing the new tagline.

General Motors executives, including the president of Cadillac himself, have said the brand’s plateauing domestic sales reflect a car-heavy lineup in a U.S. market currently favoring crossovers and SUVs. Last month, the brand sold 13,359 vehicles in America.

[Image: General Motors]

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36 Comments on “Marketing Boss Uwe Ellinghaus Resigns from Cadillac...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Very misleading headline. It should include “for health reasons” at the end of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Burying the relevant detail after the jump adds seemingly intentionally to “misleading”.

    • 0 avatar

      So many people told him to shove the cars up his a$$ that the extractions will take at least that long.

      But they gave him a lovely Montblanc pen as a parting gift.

    • 0 avatar

      I really hope he gets well, but I’m glad he’s gone from Cadillac. The whole “pitch to Millennials, and screw everyone else” ad campaign has put Cadillac in the ditch. Close down the stupid coffee house, move the headquarters back to Detroit, and start marketing to people who would actually buy Cadillacs.

  • avatar

    I’ve still yet to see one of those V cars on the road. Just seeing a regular CTS/ATS (current generation) is a notable occurrence.

    • 0 avatar

      TMA, you didn’t say it, but it’s common in today’s corporations – auto and various other consumer goods – to scapegoat the marketing executive when the product doesn’t sell.

      I’ve read that the lifespan of a typical Chief Marketing Officer, from hiring to firing, now averages about 9 months. That’s crazy. When you think about it, that’s kind of like firing the head of Finance because this quarter you didn’t make enough money. It just shows the depths of short-range panic that have gripped every executive suite because of the ever-tightening noose of pressure from Wall Street to hit impossible sales and profit goals without interruption.

      As you know, the problems at Cadillac arguably include running the wrong commercials, but they inarguably run much deeper.

      • 0 avatar

        How many times have you heard on the news “Stocks in XYZ Corporation fell 8 percent after earnings failed to meet analyst’s expectations for the third quarter…”?
        It seems that the estimates from the Wall Street “experts” are wrong – they don’t really know what is happening at XYZ Corporation, and have unrealistic forecasts.

        • 0 avatar

          Management, usually the CEO, is complicit in setting overly high expectations.

        • 0 avatar

          Wall Street analysts don’t make these estimates u on their own – they use information and “guidance” provided by the company – typically, from the CFO.

          So, when earnings “disappoint”, it usually means the company didn’t meet the numbers it encouraged the Street to expect.

      • 0 avatar

        He resigned for health reasons – not sales.

        And while you’re right that the typical CMO shelflife is short, it’s not 9 months short. It was under 2 years in the recent past but now has creeped back up over 2 years, so perhaps companies are realizing marketing can’t fix all of a company’s problems overnight.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. In the ring suburbs around NYC, a new CTS is rare. I’ve seen exactly one CT6, and that in Chappaqua. V Versions are nonexistent on the street-I’ve seen one ATS-V at a car show, and probably two second generation CTS-V total. Current CTS-V, nope, and only one CTS VSport, the car they should be advertising now that BMW steering is joystick. (my suspicion is that they make them for Secret Service and FBI- explains the XTS-V which would appear to not have any business case)

      Overall, the fleet here has XTS, old or taxi. CTS current, must be cheap leases with 2.0 turbo, but still a very rare sighting. ATS occasionally, but not many of theme either. BMW is toyota here, owning a Mercedes means….not much, unless it’s an S, and even then bling folk prefer the trucks.

      Get better Uwe. Health does not respect work achievements.

      • 0 avatar

        Same scenario in DC. I’ve seen two CT6’s, both on Pennsylvania Avenue. Wouldn’t be surprised if it was a/the same livery vehicle both times. 2nd-generation CTS-V’s are a little more common, as those cars had a point to their existence. I think Continentels alone far outnumber any midsize or greater Cadillac sedans.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve seen only one current CTS-V, and it was on the Thruway near the Peace Bridge with Ontario plates.

          That said – in black, that car is pure menace. I hope they depreciate like sinkers, the want is strong.

  • avatar

    That first picture just reminds me how much I’d rather have an SS instead.

  • avatar

    I’m still waiting for them to follow their own tagline. Unless you count doubling down on sedans, but then again those decisions were made before it was apparent that segment’s nosedive was going to be sustained.

    Build me a Ciel or a Elmiraj and we’ll talk about daring greatly.

  • avatar

    If you can sell a pen, you can sell a car.

  • avatar

    “Health issues”…okey dokey.

  • avatar

    Nooooooo not Pen Boy the Liar.

    A. Laid off and given a severance in exchange for an NDA.
    B. Resigned because he sees the iceberg, uses surgery as excuse.

    C-Suite execs get short term disability, he could take it during his surgery and someone be appointed “acting CMO” in his stead. Even if they decided to replace him with the temp later, they would still have to pay him to leave. I also don’t see how it makes sense to give up your health insurance, although he may just go back to CH, or Germany, or where ever he is from for the surgery and not need US insurance.

  • avatar

    Cadillac’s attempt to become the American BMW is/was/will be a total failure. The direction Lincoln is going in is much truer to it’s heritage of American luxury. I can’t help but wonder if the CT6, which has been a sales flop (along with, the ATS and CTS) might have done better if it was named Deville as it should have been.

    • 0 avatar

      Two crossovers, two sedans, and one SUV based on a Ford makes Lincoln “truer to it’s heritage of American luxury”?


      Lincoln’s resurgence is all based on CUVs and SUVs. The only “heritage” that their current line shows is that one car is named “Continental.” It’s based on a FWD family sedan. Well, given that Lincolns were ALL based on Fords back in the day, maybe you’re making your point in a backwards sort of way…

      Cadillac will be fine. It needs to shrink the sedan lineup and add CUVs.

      • 0 avatar

        My point was that Lincoln is focusing on a more traditional American luxury stance, glitzy vehicles loaded with creature comforts (new Continental/Navigator, for example). Cadillac, on the other hand is hell bent on becoming the American BMW, and that is proving, and will prove to be an unsuccessful strategy, because it’s just not what you think of when you think of Cadillac’s history. Lincoln is focusing on it’s past strengths. Cadillac is not.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      mjz, neither Cadillac nor Lincoln have succeeded in making vehicles people aspire to lease/own like BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. Maybe Cadillac and Lincoln are simply unfashionable dead brands. Do many people who can afford a luxury car want a Cadillac Deville? Look at the success of the GMC Yukon Denali which is basically a Cadillac Escalade with all the Cadillac styling excess and branding removed.

      • 0 avatar

        Whether Lincoln or Cadillac are making compelling vehicles is not what my point was. I think that Lincoln has a better chance of being successful because they are focusing on making Lincoln what it was historically, blingy, comfortable luxury vehicles, whereas Cadillac is trying to become the American BMW, and it “ain’t” working at all, because that is just not Cadillac’s brand heritage. The CT6 is a sales flop because no one knows what the hell a CT6 is. It has no heritage. It’s too bad, because it is an imposing car. But everyone knows what a Deville is. The big Cadillac sedan. Instant heritage.

        • 0 avatar

          Hmmm…by this logic, Continental should be kicking the hell out of CT6. Here are the actual sales…drum roll please…

          CT6 2017 YTD: 9701
          Continental 2017 YTD: 10796

          So…no, luxury car buyers have NOT responded all that well to the “heritage” of the Continental name.

          And I’d actually say the CT6 has been a modest success for Cadillac.

          (Worth noting: base price of a Continental is $45,000. A CT6 starts around $9,000 higher.)

  • avatar

    Seems the man stepped into a challenge where Superman would struggle to succeed. Hope his illness is less severe than Cadillac’s and not caused by his experience over the past 4 years. I wish him “gute Besserung” in any case.

  • avatar

    The GM engineers and corporate strategists decide the world needs more Cadillac sedans, and the GM marketer’s job is to sell the sedans to a world that wants SUVs and pickups. If the marketer fails its his own fault, because he just couldn’t properly sell the brilliant corporate vision – no wonder he needs medical help. Very tough job and I wish him well in his recovery.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    Six-month medical leaves aren’t terribly uncommon for any executive a company wants to keep.

  • avatar

    Whether Lincoln or Cadillac are making compelling vehicles is not what my point was. I think that Lincoln has a better chance of being successful because they are focusing on making Lincoln what it was historically, blingy, comfortable luxury vehicles, whereas Cadillac is trying to become the American BMW, and it “ain’t” working at all, because that is just not Cadillac’s brand heritage. The CT6 is a sales flop because no one knows what the hell a CT6 is. It has no heritage. It’s too bad, because it is an imposing car. But everyone knows what a Deville is. The big Cadillac sedan. Instant heritage.

  • avatar

    Dare greatly. Fail bigly.

  • avatar

    Peter M. DeLorenzo should have a good Rant on this at The Autoextremist pretty soon (I’m surprised it’s not there already).

  • avatar

    My Cadillac ownership experience –

    My current wife wanted an Escalade as a wedding gift. I tried to talk her out of it, but we needed to haul our new blended family of 8 (on occasion) and neither of us are minivan people. We shopped around, located a loaded two year old Escalade ESV for 1/3 the price of a new one and made it happen. She has been happily feeding it premium ever since.

    Total maintenance on the Escalade over 8 years has included a battery, a seat heater relay, 9 oil changes, a brake job, a set of Michelins, an air pump and rear air shocks, two windshields and most annoyingly, three exterior door handles (cheap plastic crap). Similar maintenance on German cars owned during the same period cost twice as much.

    The Escalade has more power and better brakes than a Yukon or a Suburban, more than enough to tow our 25’ boat. We could upsize the boat to roughly 30’ /8,500 lbs. before investing in a dedicated tow rig. The Cadi manages 13 mpg while towing 6,500 lbs on a tandem axle trailer, which about 0.6 mpg less than my German SUV averaged over the 10 years/120,000 miles I drove it. Sans trailer, the Cadillac gets better highway mpg than my 3,800 lb. Audi S5.

    Our Escalade has brought home a 17 drawer dresser. It has hauled away a queen sized mattress, bed frame and box springs. Its brought home a full stack guitar amplifier with two 4×12 cabinets. It hauled 30 bags of topsoil, three 12’ flowering trees and a dozen flats of annuals from the nursery. The third row seats pop right out. With those seats out, it hauled (8) 4×8 sheets of plywood, (20) 10’ 2x8s, (40) 10’ 2x4s, (8) 10’ sections of copper pipe, 12 3’x5’ sheets of concrete board, a new toilet in its giant box and all the tile, mortar and grout for a bathroom remodel. The power tailgate still shut and the air ride leveled it out despite 2,000 lbs of cargo. Try that in a Prius.

    The Escalade’s AWD gets us to and from the ski resorts safely and the skis and snowboards don’t have to be strapped to the top like they do on the Audi. I still enjoy taking the Audi skiing, but if more than three of us are going we can all comfortably fit in the Escalade, with snow boots on or off.

    Nobody really needs a car with three TV screens, two rows of heated seats and a dozen cupholders but our passengers like it well enough to argue over who has to sit way back in the 3rd row (no seat heaters back there, but they do have a dedicated screen, power outlets and cupholders. The front seats are cooled too. Useful in a giant black SUV with lots of windows. Features like these sell cars, especially to women.

    My wife remotely starts and warms (or cools) her car for 10 minutes before she drives three blocks to the store, or seven blocks to work and this routine happens two or three times a day. Waste of fuel? Sort of, but does fuel economy really factor into the thinking when one is using a 2.5 ton SUV as a commuter or when the point of the trip is to bring home ia $4 loaf of bread three blocks? Could she walk? Sure but not in the rain, not in the cold, not in the dark, not on a hot day nor on a windy day and not if she buys a case of bottled water or eggs and milk as well as that loaf of bread. I’d end up dropping what I had going on to pick her up, probably in the Escalade. Happy wife, happy life. Drill baby drill.

    People with real lives buy these things because they are useful in real life. The target audience is suburban families with 2.5 (or more) kids and a dog or two and the USA still contains plenty of that demographic. Some areas moreso than others. Are they inexpensive? Not really. Are they a good value? Absolutely. Cadillac moves quite a few of them here in the beautiful PNW at $85- $100k a pop. Hopefully they’ll keep making and selling lots of them because I’ll probably buy at least one more.

    Hopefully whoever they pick to lead Cadillac keeps that in mind and maybe stops trying to out BMW the Germans. GM should revive Pontiac if they want to offer a quasi-performance brand with more content than a comparible Chevy. Cadillac is supposed to be about comfort and presence. Powerful and prestigious does not have be sporty to be cool.

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