By on August 2, 2018

Image: GM

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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93 Comments on “Melody Lee Resigns From Cadillac; Book Gets a New Boss...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Boy these comments are going to be good past the popcorn.

  • avatar
    PJPT

    Good luck on your next endeavor Melody!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I was hoping this story would make it here… Oh DW, hope you have a outrage rant ready for this

  • avatar
    DEVILLE88

    uuuhhhhhh……..So!! Her commercial campaign did nothing for Cadillac, the move of Detroit to NYC completely sucked. so good luck to her at her new possition. Maybe they can now find someone who understands what Cadillac is and needs.I DARE GM to bring Cadillac back to the King of the Hill status it once had!!

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      If you think that’s going to be Reuss and the other bean-counter types at RenCen, then you’re sadly mistaken.

      JdN left Cadillac b/c he got sick of the constant cost-cutting from the higher ups.

      They wouldn’t even approve funding for new models until JdN came back w/ a plan for increased sales (which he did by moving aggressively in China).

      The last straw was when the higher-ups canceled the Omega-based crossover and the top engine planned for the XT4 (so, apparently, there’s not going to be an XT4 V-Sport); by then JdN had already given up on the bulk of Cadillac’s CUV being RWD-based.

      And the decision to move HQ to NYC pre-dated JdN.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’m sure there’ll be plenty of rejoicing coming, but I don’t think Lee had much to do with Cadillac’s problems (although she might have been ineffectual at compensating for them). Cadillac still suffers from typical GM almost-there-it is where there’s plenty of things they do well, but all of their products (except maybe the Escalade) have some glaring errors. How are you expected to market an aspirational brand whose ethos is “good enough?”

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      She became a symbol of everything wrong with Cadillac. Instead of focusing on making a better product that people wanted she focused on trying to develop the Cadillac brand, but without the product the brand has little value

      • 0 avatar
        SD 328I

        Well that kinda of goes hand in hand with product development. You think she had a hand on what products where being developed already in the pipeline?

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        /thread with Lie2me’s comment. It’s spot on.

        Audi rebuilt itself in North America through product. As the product improved and sales increased, the brand value improved.

        Cadillac is known as the “Escalade Company”. It’s the only dead-on product in their portfolio. Everything else is, as someone else stated, an “almost there” product.

        When you’re competing with strong, established players, you cannot enter the arena with half measures.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        She was a brand manager; what did you expect her to do? Product wasn’t her job; that was the boss’s job.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. A brand marketing manager focused branding and marketing? What is the world coming to? It’s not like she decided to move to NYC, she just had to add the spin to Johan’s decision.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Well, apparently, it wasn’t JdN’s job either as he constantly got rebuffed by the higher-ups who wanted to do Cadillac “on-the-cheap.”

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            Cadillac “on the cheap” that was when they slapped options, leather and a badge on a Chevy. That was the end of Cadillac and they are slowly crawling back. If that’s what GM really wants they are doomed to the just make trucks and SUV of Ford and FCA.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “he constantly got rebuffed by the higher-ups who wanted to do Cadillac ‘on-the-cheap.’ ”

            Lol. I’m sure the new Son of Northstar and 2.7T engines won’t be cost-cut all to hell.

            Have fun early adopters.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Well, that’s one area where JdN won a few battles, starting w/ the new 4.2TT.

            For the 2019MY, the CT6 is getting 5 engines and 13 configurations.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    de Nyschenn may be gone, but his misbegotten naming scheme lives on!

    Yet, if it’s so brilliant, why is the Escalade not the XT8? Or XT10?

    Yes, naming cars the way AMD named computer chips is a surefire winner.

    We’ll see how the boys from Dearborn do–they are moving back to real names.

    It’s very challenging to make ‘luxury’ on the cheap. Audi and Lexus only do so “partially”–many of their offerings are unique, and/or feature unique drivetrains, though several of their products are tarted-up VWs and Toyotas.

    Cadillac’s cars, to it’s credit ARE unique (unlike Lincoln). However, they share their engines with GM’s more plebian offerings, such as Malibus (a good car for sure, IMO–but do I want my $50k CTS to have the same 4-cylinder engine as a Malibu?)

    Cadillac’s should be bigger, with bigger engines than typical cars, GM or otherwise. That’s the aura of Cadillac, one that everyone but GM seems to understand.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Cadillac having an XT5 and XTS is dumb and confusing.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not so bad, XT stands for eXtremely Terrible.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @28-Cars: Sadly the XTS is likely the best Deville, DTS, DHS since the death of the 4.9 V8 and the introduction of the Northstar.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Although I still think the roofline sucks and I wish it had a name, I’ve largely come around on the XTS.

            I’m close to coming around on the CT6. I really hope they aren’t half-a$$ing the Northstar II.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            An XTS CPO is tempting for a family man who wants new or near to new as his next vehicle, lots of room for two kids, loves epic depreciation on the 1st owner (generally 50%+ on XTS in a very short amount of time), and doesn’t give two $hits about the badge on the grille.

            HOWEVER if I had NEW XTS money I’d probably be giving a Genesis G80 a serious look. Because again I care more about value than snobbery.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Dan

            I prefer the Buick.

            @ajla

            Don’t worry, they skipped II and went straight for Northstar III.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @28-Cars

            XTS – 18 cubic feet of trunk space

            Lacrosse – roughly 15 cubic feet of trunk space

            Makes a difference with that stroller the wife loves so much that unfortunately is large enough to require a CDL to pilot.

          • 0 avatar
            energetik9

            I haven’t thought of a Cadillac as anything near snobbery for some time…if ever.

            I guess that’s the question/problem. Is a Cadillac perceived as a premier brand to the car buying public? Especially 50 and under?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Dan

            Thanks, didn’t know that but it seems odd since they are all based on the same thing.

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            I finally saw one of the post-refresh XTS’s (’18 model year and newer?). As I feared, they ruined what was, to me, the car’s single best feature: the taillights. The subtle fins have become a melting hockey stick.

            Re: engine choices, let’s remember that (setting aside the multiple V6’s in the Buick earlier in the run and foreign market offerings) XTS’s did get the most powerful engine choices. 10th-gen Impalas get the bottom three of four tiers (a 2.5 I4, the eAssist I4, and the 3.6 V6). 2nd-gen LaCrosses got the middle two engines (the eAssist and the 3.6). Cadillacs got the top two (3.6 and 3.6 twin turbo). But the fact that that’s not well known–and yes, I had to look it up–is indicative of Cadillac’s problems over the past 50 years.

            Like a lot of you, I’d do an XTS but only as a used car. And before I’d do that, I’d have to, #1, chat with some 3.6 owners (of whom there are a lot) about reliability and, #2, have a play with CUE to see if it meets or exceeds my “I know this is stupid, but I can live with it” standard.

          • 0 avatar
            jkk6

            As a minority living in America, I noticed if you’re a community type person(business owner, entrepreneur or govt type) Cadi’s domestic badge will shine brighter with positiveness as opposed to any other Luxury Marque. You will rarely be criticised by others, but on the flip side, all that criticism will be produced by the owner to the car. lol

      • 0 avatar
        mmreeses

        especially when Cadillac blockhead font make “5” and “S” look almost identical.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      By this logic, the Continental should be a massive hit.

      The problem is the product, not the name.

      • 0 avatar
        Hydromatic

        American luxury cars should just go back to the “lower and longer” ethos. The Continental is a nice enough car, but it looks like a stubby bar of soap. The 300 is similarly stubby whereas the XTS looks like it’s raising its haunches like a scared cat.

        These cars simply need more visual length. Lack of visual length was what killed the downsized Deville and Fleetwood back in the 80s and it wasn’t until that length was tacked back on in the early 90s that salvaged its looks. The Escalade has visual length, for crying out loud. People go nuts over the Escala and the other Cadillac concepts because of their visual length.

        Just make the damned cars longer.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      So much WRONG with this post.

      JdN wanted to do revitalize the Cadillac nameplate by doing things the right way, but he got sick of fighting Reuss and the others at RenCen who wanted to do things on the cheap.

      JdN had already given up on the bulk of Cadillac’s CUVs being RWD, but then his bosses canceled the Omega-based CUV and the top engine for the XT4 (so appparently, no XT4 V-Sport), he got fed up and quit.

      While JdN didn’t get his wishes when it came to Cadillac’s CUVs, he was the one who put the plan in place to correct Cadillac’s sedan line-up.

      Not only will they be getting the much more striking Escala design language (including the face-lifted CT6), they won’t have the packaging issues that the ATS and CTS had (w/ their overly cramped interiors).

      The CT5, CT6 and upcoming CT7/8? will all have class-leading or near class-leading interior space w/ a much improved engine lineup.

      The interiors are supposed to get a much needed upgrade, but who knows if Reuss got his hands on things and cheapened out?

      As for the 1 Series, A Class and A3 sedan competitor, the CT4, the plan was to keep it RWD, but who knows if Reuss will follow thru w/ that?

      As for nomenclature, too much is made out of it.

      The 2G CTS sold pretty well for Cadillac b/c it had proper packaging.

      Th ATS, its replacement, bombed b/c its packaging stunk.

      It’s not like the move bringing back the Continental nameplate has done much of anything for sales of the Lincoln sedan flagship.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So fluff, BS, and doublespeak don’t sell Cadillacs after all; who knew?

    Should have gone with a little Melody T&A.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    M’eh. Melody can only do so much. She did fine with the bad hand that she was dealt.

    Though i’d tell her that there’s more to America than Mr. and Ms. Big staring at Cadillacs on Mercer St in Soho, NYC.

    Want to sell to your audience? Know your audience.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Exactly and even though Melody Lee was born and raised in Texas I always got the feeling that she had no idea what a Cadillac was until she landed the job. To me, knowing Cadillac’s history is imperative for future success

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Love him or hate him but Deadweight was right on the money.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    No doubt had a get acquainted meeting with Carlisle — who asked what her plans were to actually sell more product.

    Her response? Adding organic goat milk to the Cadillac House espresso bar.

    He promptly told her to do something useful and go unstuff the men’s room toilet.

    She quit.

    She was a complete, over-promoted knucklehead who never should’ve been hired in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Carlisle is nothing more than a Reuss yes-man.

      • 0 avatar
        FWD Donuts

        That yes man did a solid job in Canada — and he got along with dealers instead of scheming to get rid of them. Get over yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          Not to say that plan (to revitalize the dealership network) was perfect was was well implemented, but something along those lines was needed.

          Cadillac had way more dealerships than its German competitors (who sold a lot more) w/ 400 of them (comprising 43% of Cadillac dealerships) selling FEWER than 50 vehicles a year, and in total comprising just 9% of sales.

          These dealerships were often small and decrepit (usually tied to a Buick/GMC or Chevy dealership) w/ the owner unwilling to pay for any upgrades (why bother w/ 50 or fewer sales annually?).

          Who cares about Canada since the dealership model can be very different over there due to its much smaller size/scope.

          And oh, Carlisle has kept JdN’s future product plans/pipeline intact (that which had been spared by Reuss).

  • avatar

    Unless I am mistaken, Ms. Lee was the “mastermind” behind the “Cadillac House” coffee shop. One of the most ridiculous marketing follies that comes to recent memory. She should have been fired for that travesty alone.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I for one will never buy a GM car after this racist and sexist forced resignation of a woman of color. It couldn’t be her fault that Cadillac failed to move in a positive direction during her tenure, because we all know only white male heterosexuals can have a lack of vision or make boneheaded managerial mistakes.

    Wait – you say the Ivy League doesn’t consider Asians to be a victim minority group, and GM has a woman CEO… Never mind.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Image and marketing of Cadillacs is hardly their biggest problem. I’d start on their interiors, especially the dashboard design. And really, the Cadillac Society?

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Johan wasn’t a stupid guy (although not too bright, either – he sort of stumbled backwards into success with Audi), but was a stupid choice for Cadillac given the constraint of having to be boxed in by the complete and total incompetent imbeciles that run GM (Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors).

    No one can fix stupid, and Johan was naive, at best, for thinking that he could, and he hurt Cadillac immensely with some of his “free choices,” also.

    As for Melody “We’re Want To Be A global Luxury Brand That Just So Happens To Sell Cars,” and Uwe “Pen Boy” Ellinghaus ( http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/cadillac-marketing-chief-uwe-ellinghaus-resigns/311491/ ), they were the sort of morons that belong in a marketing-specific company or ad agency of some sort, since most of the crap those agencies produce is useless fluff, and the success of actual product can’t be thwarted even by the worst marketing if the actual product is really good or great.

    For those new to the Cadillac Train Wreck, here are samples of the lunacy that Melody and Uwe represented as a wing of the Johan era:

    http://www.campaignlive.com/article/cadillacs-melody-lee-10-year-plan-millennials/1420425

    ” I’ll often say, ‘Well, do you want a millennial’s perspective?’ You have one right here.”

    “Everyone in New York is always just a little bit ahead of everyone else and we need to be the brand that stands for that.”

    “I don’t buy products, I buy brands. I don’t use Apple computers because they are the best computers, I use them because Apple is cool. We need to show drivers what the Cadillac lifestyle is all about.”

    “We want to be a global luxury brand that happens to sell cars. We don’t want to be an automotive brand.”

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cadillacs-director-brand-reputation-strategy-dont-want-automotive-brand/

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-09-25/what-i-wear-to-work-cadillacs-melody-lee

    And then there’s Johan, DARING ME GREATLY in 2015:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOhaJ_qSNTg

    The next complete moron that will fall soon, as predicted by me, is Jim HACKett. He’s possibly the worst automotive CEO in existence at the present time, and is going to decimate Ford. The Ford Family is into masochism when it comes to selecting CEOs (with a couple of exceptions, Mulally being the most notable) and football coaches.

    HACKett will do a true HATCHET job and then be bounced, but not before doing long-term damage to Ford.

    Akio Toyoda should resign, or if the Japanese still were capable of shame, commit seppeku, but I doubt that he’ll do (or be forced to do) either such thing (as the majority of Toyota’s vehicles continue to deteriorate into a puddle of sh!t relative to most of the competition with each passing year).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Wow, a calm, measured analysis of Ms Lee’s tenure. Bravo.

      Couldn’t help but take it off the rails at the end though. You look at Ford’s products today vs 10 years ago, Powershift debacle and slow updates aside, not sure what more there is to do there. And Toyota’s “mediocre” lineup remains in the top 10 healthily (i.e. actual people, not fleets, are buying RAV4s). What do you want them to do?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Mulally was ONE HE11 of a CEO and literally saved the Ford family’s farm.

        He had everything teed up nicely for his successor upon his planned departure, Mark Fields, who, in retrospect, was a far more capable CEO than Jim Hackett, and should not have been let go.

        Hackett has already changed plans and set things into motion that will badly harm Ford for years to come.

        Even the continuing dominance of the F-Series Franchise, assuming it doesn’t suffer sales erosion to GM and, especially, RAM, won’t be enough to offset Hackett’s idiotic moves already undertaken (he’s literally flushing billions and billions down the drain with a really fantastical and unrealistic vision of the near and intermediate future of where/now Ford will add revenue to its bottom line, and is neglecting core products while eliminating important other ones).

        • 0 avatar

          DeadWeight. In total agreement that you on this. HACKit and FARTley are making short term profit decisions in a desperate attempt to boost Ford’s moribund stock price that will ultimately prove to be crippling for Ford’s long term future and possible survival.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The past five years explained in three quotes:

      “I don’t buy products, I buy brands”

      “We don’t want to be an automotive brand.”

      “Well, do you want a millennial’s perspective?’ You have one right here.”

      The only real question is why did it take so long to fire the staff.

      Cadillac is toast, Zee Germans can continue to immolate themselves and it will never translate into a Cadillac sale for the simple this reason:

      “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – Carlin

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Cadillac could be salvaged via an intelligent, highly disciplined, product-centric plan, executed well, but the chances of this happening are between slim and none now that GM Corporate is running the show (and with China’s economy growing at 40% the rate it was just 7 years ago, and set to slow even more, if not outright contract – which will set many automakers with the China Market Hail Mary Plan on their heels), which is now literally bringing my past predictions to life about what it’s turning into reality (a quote within a quote):

        “That Johan and Mary Barra are real brain surgeons. Johan basically crafted an idiotic plan, the equally brilliant Mary Barra paid 12 billion dollars for it, saw it go sideways in the worst possible way (ATS, 3rd gen CTS, CT6…and now, EVEN Escalade sales are falling YoY), then pretty much wiped their a$$ with 12 billion dollars, and this is the NEW PLAN as predicted by me a long time’ago (the quote below):

        I predicted this in 2015 as I watched Johan-Melody CTLee-Uwe flail around in helpless drowning –

        GM (Mary Barra )’could have saved itself 12 billion USD by canning the Johan and his idiotic plans.

        Here’s what I said and that which I predicted would replace the utter failures that are now the ATS, 3rd gen CTS, CT6, and (now defunct) ELR:

        “XT1 – Rebadged Chevy Spark-based CUV (this can actually be seen in the Cadillac Urban Luxury concept)

        XT2 – Rebadged Chevy Sonic-based CUV

        XT3 – Rebadged Chevy Cruze-based CUV

        XT4 – Rebadged Chevy Malibu-based CUV

        XT5 – *exists*

        XT6 – Rebadged Chevy Impala-based CUV

        Escalade – *exists* – badly outdated, with its 3 advantages of a great V8 in the 6.2, a great sound, and a bold, unabashed presence being outweighed by 1) a abysmal ride quality, 2) abysmal interior space relative to overall exterior dimensions, 3) abysmal reliability (it’s a Guangzhou Motors product, after all), 4) CUE, 5) it’s a blinged out Tahoe/Suburban selling for 35k to 20k more.

        XT7 – Coming with length in 2020, using the same platform/chassis and powertrain from a Chevy, no doubt…

        And there’s your future Cadillac lineup, that ROGER SMITH FROM THE GRAVE WOULD BE EXTREMELY PROUD OF!, brought to market with pleather trim, CUE and the storied Cadillac emblem, now monochromatized and devoid of wreath, to distinguish CADILLAC (“standard of the world”) from its less “prestigious”Guangzhou Motors siblings…./SARC

        WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN…GENERAL MOTORS AND CADILLAC ALA ROGER SMITH STYLE!”

        GENERAL MOTORS GENIUS, SINCE THE 1970s (GM went from 50% market share in the late 1960s to 15% today).

        BRILLIANT EXECS, MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP! REALLY BANG UP JOB!

        Cadillac’s total and complete failure, and reversion to the Cadillac of Roger Smith v2.0, is a tragedy worthy of Greek Literature.”

        • 0 avatar
          Hydromatic

          And you know what the irony of all that is?

          These products would actually SELL.

          But it’s an idea that’s come 5 years too late to be of any real use to Cadillac. I hate to say it, but GM would be better off jettisoning Cadillac and elevating Buick from its “near-luxury” status. Buick has always been the “sensible” alternative to Cadillac since the 1980s, anyways – lower sticker prices, more reliable powertrains, more comfort and less pretentious looks.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          So give us your “intelligent, highly disciplined, product-centric plan” to save Cadillac. You clearly know better and have had enough time to put something together.

          Let me guess, a long sedan on a bespoke platform, with a V12, and “presence”. Sales be damned (which they most certainly will be). A real Viking funeral.

          Indeed, how dare GM sell the crossovers which everyone wants, leveraging existing platforms. Sure didn’t work for VWAG, Acura, LEXUS LOL. DW has literally been SCREAMING for GM to do something else for years, but has yet to tell us exactly WHAT they should do. What a complete joke. TTAC’s court jester….

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “how dare GM sell the crossovers which everyone wants”

            That’s just it, Cadillac doesn’t even do that. With only one SUV and one crossover on offer there isn’t much to choose from. What does Lincoln have now 3-4 SUV/crossovers?

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Cadillac has the XT4, XT5, Escalade and Escalade ESV. Lincoln has the MKC, Nautilus, Aviator and Navigator. Lincoln’s lineup is more compelling IMO, but Cadillac doesn’t have anything missing. Their offerings just aren’t as good.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            “sporty”accord, you are a jealous pi$$ant (due to a lack of original thought and an obvious unsatisfied craving for attention) & have obviously missed the LITERAL dozens of times I’ve posted the recipe and roadmap to intelligently attempt to “fix” Cadillac as a producer of vehicles, and hence, brand.

            Your annoying, pi$$ant ways prompted me to take time out of an otherwise somewhat busy morning to spoon feed your lazy a$$ (next time, do research for yourself).

            Here are just a few examples:

            …..

            1) DeadWeight
            April 18th, 2018 at 11:49 pm

            The XT4 is a CUV version of the Malibu, aka the Chevy Equinox.

            This new CUV will only further cement Cadillac’s deeply entrenched reputation as a designer and producer of absolute mediocrity; I type this as I literally am watching a commercial for the Cadillac XT5 (an upgrade from the XT4 but still a total badge-job ripoff from another Chevy) being advertised for $269/month with $1,600 down at lease signing.

            Let’s be clear here: If Cadillac is ever to again become what it pretends and projects to be (a true luxury vehicle producer), and build up a true and enduring reputation as a designer and producer of luxurious, high-quality, refined, reliable, and desirable vehicles, drawing top $$$ sales and genuine customer satisfaction as such, it needs to stop the badge jobs that share Chevy/Buick/GMC drivetrains, powerplants (with few exceptions such as the 6.2, even if there are now alleged problems already surfacing re the 6.2, and there are), suspensions, and GM interior/exterior bin parts shared with the rest of GM’s divisions (I can’t wait to review the XT4 to see just how closely it feels to Equinox/Terrain, even loaded up with Cadillac window dressing).

            Mercedes has recently gone down this road with the GLA/GLC, and it’s going to severely hurt their credibility and luxury bona fides, ultimately (even if Cadillac can’t touch their genuine product such as the S Class in terms of refinement, suspension, interior, quality of materials or fit/finish, or dealership experience).

            Cadillac’s HQ should be moved back to Michigan, where there’s great substance and depth in engineering talent and an abundance of high quality suppliers, even if GM has thus far failed to tap into the right pool of talent in terms of competent individuals or choosing the top notch suppliers (the whole “[Y]ou can’t beat our low-bid supply contracts from Chinese suppliers and can’t wait 120-180 days for payment?” bullsh!t with GM is crazy and needs to stop, especially when it comes to Cadillac).

            If Cadillac wants to be taken seriously in flyover country (it’s not) AND on the coasts (it’s definitely not), it needs to seriously up every aspect of its product line, in terms of differentiation, and in putting out seriously bold, refined, high’quality vehicles, that aren’t viewed any longer as giant pieces of typical, rebadged General Motors sh!t, serviced by middling (at best) or rat-tat dealerships.

            Cadillac, before and during JdN’s tenure, tried to market instead of make its way out of its rat hole, viewing its issues far more as a perception rather than engineering issue (even when the Cadillac in question had a unique chassis/architecture, it was riddled with quality control issues, plagued by lack of refinement in NVH and ride quality, and suffered serious reliability woes, in addition to suffering pricing and packaging – interior space and bundled options – issues).

            Cadillac is one of the least reliable makes of vehicles according to the best and most comprehensive/credible surveys.

            Given their current pricing (way too high, particularly on leases) and reputation (extremely poor), fixing this problem should be a priority.

            They then can tackle the other things referenced, such as top-notch materials, best-in-class NVH and ride attributes,’cutting edge aesthetic design and ergonomics, and engine choices that put them at an advantage versus their desired competition (Mercedes, Lexus, Audi and BMW).”

            …..

            2) DeadWeight
            December 16th, 2017 at 12:14 am

            Wow.

            Every single thing I predicted regarding the ATS and 3rd Gen CTS has come true, even in more dire ways than I predicted, and faster than I predicted, yet many here, since 2012 when I predicted such things, steadfastly told me that I was too harsh on Cadillac.

            The ATS and CTS are literally selling in near-exotic sedan territory (6,800, CTS, to 7,800, ATS, per year; there was a time when the 2nd Gen CTS sold well above 35,000 copies per year).

            The ATS has -and this is incredible – seen consecutive month-over-month and year-over year sales declines in massive %’s ever since it was introduced.

            The CTS now sells at a rate that is approximately 1/4 on an annual’basis as it did in 2012.

            I predict that the CT6 will end up in exactly the same terminal sales decline as both the ATS and 3rd Gen CTS, despite it only selling about 9,400 copies in its 1st full year), with an ultimate sales rate of around 6,000 copies annually.

            The XTSpala sells many more copies than the ATS, CTS and CT6 because it a) sells in heavy fleet volume, b) is roomy and rides more comfortably than any other Cadillac, c) is not trying to be a BMW, and d) sells for around the same price as a mid-level ATS or base level 3rd gen CTS.

            And to Buickman’s statement about how it’s not the vehicles, but the marketing, he’s wrong; it’s both (but moreso the vehicles, which are genuinely subpage in terms of reliability, fit/finish, ride quality, etc., overpriced, and atrocious in terms of resale value, for good reasons).

            Cadillac is on life support only because of the XT5 (5, not S) and Escalade, and the XT4 will be launched into the most competitive environment in terms of the number (as well as aggressive pricing from truly premium makes) of compact CUVs thus far on offer.

            ….

            3) Okay, here’s the successful recipe for the true luxury vehicle cake, that advertising has very little to do with (we’re in a rightfully cynical of advertising/marketing psychological gamesmanship era – at least Gen X & Y are):

            1) PLUSH riding vehicles over any road surface. Just achieve it.

            2) Solid as a bank vault (carved from a single block of titanium feel). Just achieve it.

            3) Quiet inside as a fortress of solitude, even at speed.

            4) Genuinely awesome interior materials inside, whether wood, metal or leather, genuinely precisely sourced, crafted and installed.

            5) Enough motor under the hood to outrace any hurricane or Mad Max-style posse.

            6) More elbow, hip, leg, head, shoulder and any other room to seat a minimum of 4 to 7 (depending on vehicle) people in first-class style comfort.

            7) Top of the chart, consistent reliability, that is an absolute given.

            8) A stress-free buying/leasing & ownership experience from the 1st to last day.

            Finit.

            ….

            4) I can’t find the exact quote, but you can get off your lazy a$$ since you’re obsessed with my original thoughts and find it yourself – “Cadillac should re-shape itself into a Land Rover/Range Rover competitor, with a mostly CUV-SUV lineup, emphasizing true luxury, only the best interior materials and design, and American Heritage design, cost be damned, with the ultimate ownership experience, with customers pampered at least as much as Lexus customers, if not more so (free maintenance, pickup and delivery, top notch service loaners, free wash and fill, extensively long and comprehensive warranties, outstanding lease programs.

            ….

            There are probably AT LEAST a dozen more HIGHLY SPECIFIC set of instructions I’ve made to intelligently rebuild Cadillac as a manufacturer and brand, going all the way back to 2013.

            You are a lazy, devoid-of-original-thought, pi$$ant, who contributes nothing to any conversation, but merely snipes with stupidity.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Only one of your three posts had any specific suggestions. Given your insatiable appetite for repetition and hyperbole it’s not unreasonable for people to miss what little substance your walls of RANDOMLY CAPITALIZED text may have to offer.

            You want to be exalted as some kind of omniscient oracle, but you are really just an angry dude POUNDING very obvious conclusions and predictions, insulting any and everybody who you deem to be the problem or who questions you. I feel for anyone who looks to you for automotive insight.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yeah DW, where’s the outrage? Well, I guess when you’re right you don’t have to shout it from the rooftops

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “…the success of actual product can’t be thwarted even by the worst marketing if the actual product is really good or great.”

      And there’s the problem in a nutshell.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not to say that JdN didn’t make some mistakes (all execs do at some point), but he had Cadillac on the right track.

      But unfortunately for him, the higher-ups haven’t budged much from the same old GM ways of thinking and rebuffed a lot of what JdN wanted to do w/ Cadillac and instead, wanted to do Cadillac “on the cheap” (actually, not that diff. from what Toyota is doing w/ Lexus).

      The one saving grace for Cadillac is that their sedans (properly packaged going forward) will still have proper performance variants – something that can’t be said for Lexus at this juncture.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Lee was never Cadillac’s problem – marketing can only do so much.

    The problem is product, and always has been. Cadillacs are weak in the details – too much engine commonality with lesser GM cars, and less-than-stellar interiors.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Lee was a marginal player when it came to Cadillac’s core issues.

      But she was a symbol of the new-ageism corporate groupthink and gobbledygook that is so pervasive and resource draining that overtook Cadillac’s view of itself and the true, root cause of its problems, and so very, very misplaced.

      It boils down to the fact that great, solid, reliable product with exceptional service and corporate-level greatness will sell, no matter how good OR bad the fluff of marketing that surrounds the product.

      Marketing and advertising barely moves the needle on what real people (sorry for the pun) really buy in real life.

      The fact that Cadillac’s marketing was both costly and terrible under Uwe and Melody was just salt in that wound.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

      Lee was indeed Cadillac’s problem in that a better automaker never would have hired her in the first place. I certainly don’t begrudge her taking the money while she could, though.

      As others have stated, any company wishing to tout its ‘brand experience’ had best make goddamned certain its products warrant that attention. Cadillac’s do not, and fixing that is where every last cent GM paid her should have gone instead.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Tons of luxury manufacturers have engine commonality with lesser brands. The biggie being Lexus with their highest selling models, the RX/ES (or is the NX the top seller now?). I don’t think that’s a fair ding.

      I do agree with the interior thing and would extend that to a broader design problem at Cadillac. They have yet to deliver on the promise of A&S. Now with driving dynamics having taken a back seat as far as market priorities go, without German brand equity luxury efforts live or die on the back of design. Especially sedans. And Cadillac’s sedans are thoroughly boring and underwhelming in and out. Cadillac needs to get back to making cars that make people feel special, and the only way for them to do that is by making cars that look and feel good. IMO a very nicely done Malibu/Impala would be way better than these boring Alpha cars. Again it works for Lexus….

  • avatar
    TMA1

    She “completed her successful life cycle” at Cadillac, just like the ATS. Both were promptly taken out behind the barn shortly thereafter.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    There are days when I feel like so many of GMs systemic problems harken back to the mentality that caused GM to hire “Brand Managers” in the first place.

    I remember the original brand managers were hired from companies like Proctor and Gamble – cause selling soap is the same as selling Cadillacs

  • avatar
    Acd

    The good news is that Melody Lee is gone. Let’s hope that when she does resurface it’s not at another car company.

  • avatar
    jkk6

    Achieving a quota of 12,000 Caddy’s sounds heck of a lot better than selling a shitty car for 5 model years. Only if she was attractive… I guarantee she prolly could have sold twice as much.

    “Book is a proven disruptor, with an average member age of 41 (20+ years younger than the average Cadillac owner) and 85% of nearly 12,000 prospects having never purchased or leased a Cadillac previously.”

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    Once again we have a person who has no business in the auto industry spending thousands of dollars that did not help the brand or its image in any way. The failure of Cadillac is not here fault, but it does show the leadership had no idea what it was doing. The products, while good in some ways, are terrible in many others. Adding this marketing fluff and “brand experience” does nothing to help push cars, especially in markets where Cadillac could still flourish (where you have hard-working people, looking for a plush retirement car).

    My real world example – my 27 y/o brother just bought a new car, an Audi A3. The main two cars he was interested in was the A3 and the IS300. Cadillac was never on his radar.(even with our uncle being in GM Corporate with a nice discount). Do you think he cared the ATS is a better driving car? Nope, the interior and technology is more refined wrapped in a classic Audi styling. Boom, sold. Cadillac better get their crossover lineup ready..

  • avatar
    George B

    I believe that Cadillac could both reduce overhead and increase sales by firing everyone in marketing and applying that money to putting engines similar to the Corvette LT1 engine in every RWD car they sell.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Mercedes is selling $90K 4 cylinder E Class. The highest selling luxury midsizer last month doesn’t even have an engine (Model 3). Shoehorning an LT1 into cars that mainly sell with 4 bangers would be an accelerated Viking funeral for Cadillac. This is not Forza Horizon 4; it’s real life, business, livelihoods.

  • avatar
    melodylee03

    God, I’m going to miss you guys.

  • avatar
    cartunez

    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.

  • avatar
    Drew Cadillac

    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!

    • 0 avatar
      Drew Cadillac

      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!

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