New marketing chief needs 10 years to make Cadillac global image

General Motors Co’s new Cadillac marketing chief believes it could take as long as a decade to build its reputation as a global luxury brand and for the moment plans to keep the brand’s advertising agency and focus on building its image in the U.S. and China.

Uwe Ellinghaus, a former marketing executive with German luxury automaker BMW AG will assume his duties on January 1, but was introduced this week as the person responsible for shaping Cadillac’s image around the world.

“I have a really, really realistic chance to establish Cadillac to what it never was, a really global premium brand that is on eye level with all the other premium competitors,” the 44-year-old executive said in an interview.

“Cadillac is today probably an admired brand and also well-liked brand but not a particularly — as we marketeers call it — relevant brand,” Ellinghaus, 44, said. “My biggest job is to explain to people why they should go for Cadillac, why it meets their daily requirements, why the expression of style is right for them.”

Ellinghaus’s hiring is part of efforts by Bob Ferguson, GM’s global Cadillac leader, to elevate the brand in the U.S. and China to compete at the level of BMW, Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s Audi. New products, such as the redesigned Cadillac CTS that arrived in U.S. showrooms last month, have helped him.

Cadillac sales globally fell 2 % last year to around 196,000 vehicles, but are up 30 % so far this year. Today nine of every 10 Cadillac sales take place in the United States and China.

“People know Cadillac, people like Cadillac, but they don’t find Cadillac always particularly relevant,” he said. “This is something that communication … can easily overcome. It just takes time.”

Ellinghaus, who was most recently a sales and marketing executive with Montblanc International, a maker of luxury pens, watches, jewelry and leather, said Cadillac has a strong history and great new vehicles to offer, including the CTS and ATS sedans, but lacks the “overarching message” to tie it all together.

Via Reuters, Bloomberg