Melody Lee Resigns From Cadillac; Book Gets a New Boss

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
melody lee resigns from cadillac book gets a new boss

Melody Lee, the former brand marketing director who joined General Motors’ luxury division in 2012 and later headed its “Book by Cadillac” subscription service, has resigned. Apparently, Lee isn’t jumping ship to another job just yet.

According to Cadillac Society, Lee posted to LinkedIn that she “doesn’t know what’s next,” but is “excited for it.” To any casual observer, that language reeks of being forced out; a GM spokesman claims Lee “has elected to resign from Cadillac to pursue other interests.”

It’s possible Lee felt she’d gone as far as she could at Cadillac, though the previous assumption is just as good a guess. The Texas-raised Lee was hired away from a public-relations firm in 2012 to help craft a new image for the struggling Cadillac brand — no small feat, given the lingering stigma associated with Early Bird Special-loving Florida retirees.

Lee’s tenure overlapped with the reign of president Johan de Nysschen, who resigned in April. Lee’s “Dare Greatly” campaign ran in the background of Cadillac’s move towards an urban, emotional persona — an effort that saw Cadillac’s HQ move from Detroit to Manhattan, upsetting some brand purists. Once settled, Cadillac’s subscription service rolled out in New York City as a pilot project, eventually expanding into Los Angeles and Dallas. Lee became global director of Book by Cadillac last November.

Though not yet profitable, Cadillac isn’t giving up on its subscription service. It’s not alone in offering the service; having subscribers pay an all-in monthly fee for a selection of vehicles (plus insurance) is seen as a potential source of otherwise unrealized revenue by a number of automakers. GM claims Lee’s departure won’t change its plans for Book.

Lee’s resignation, effective in mid-August, makes her the first major name to depart Cadillac since GM Canada’s Steve Carlisle took over from de Nysschen. As Cadillac’s been fairly silent since de Nysschen’s exit, one wonders what plans might be brewing.

In the wake of Lee’s announcement, Cadillac tapped Sean Thornton, senior manager of international operations and de Nysschen’s former chief of staff, to handle the Book file.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Cartunez Cartunez on Aug 03, 2018

    Cadillac should purchase the powertrain and electronics from the 2006 Lexus LS430 and put American style body on it. That's as close as they will ever come to building a decently large and reliable luxury sedan.

  • Drew Cadillac Drew Cadillac on Aug 08, 2018

    I'm betting she got fired. Who else leaves a high paying job in their 30's and has nothing else lined up? Melody Lee was not only a massive failure at Cadillac, she was an embarrassment, a laughingstock. She came armed with all sorts of marketing buzzwords, and not a clue about Cadillac or the automobile industry. Melody thought it was a great idea to create a fashion designer showcase/coffee house in New York City, supposedly to bring more “luxury” to the brand. Melody offered select potential customers free meals at five star restaurants and helicopter trips to the Hamptons, as a way to supposedly enhance the brand. Melody loved to use phrases such as "I don’t use Apple computers because they are the best computers, I use them because Apple is cool." Thus Melody sold Bob Ferguson on the idea that she had a magic wand of “cool” that she could wave, and Cadillac would suddenly become cool. Cool among millennials, because after all Melody is a millennial (as she frequently reminded Cadillac executives). Yes Melody was completely clueless about marketing cars to customers, but she was great at marketing herself to Cadillac. And it’s to Johan de Nysschen’s shame that he didn’t fire Melody once he was in charge, after Ferguson. It appears that Steve Carlisle has corrected that mistake. It’s great to see the departure of the three clueless amigos - Uwe Ellinghaus, Johan de Nysschen, and Melody Lee - all within the past 12 months. What a fantastic change for Cadillac. Soon I think the brand will be moving back to Detroit, leaving behind the massive waste of time and money spent in New York City. Finally some adults are in charge at Cadillac!

    • Drew Cadillac Drew Cadillac on Sep 28, 2018

      Just as a follow-up to the above post, mission accomplished. Cadillac is leaving NYC for Detroit (technically Warren, but close enough). And most laughable, the still-unemployed Melody (check out her LinkedIn page, it's hilarious*) is now whining about the move out of NYC. * - "I can write, I can speak, I can be strategic, but I can also do. I have a lot more to learn about leadership, but it's what motivates me the most every day. If you give me something to believe in, I will make anyone believe. If you tell me to break through a wall, I will do it and build you a new one." Are you kidding me? Read the above, written by Melody, for Melody, and realize what a massive mistake it was to EVER put her in a lofty position at Cadillac or anywhere else. You can't make this stuff up!

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.