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But the top story this week came from Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac’s chief executive, who, in an interview with Reuters on the eve of the Beijing show, said that he is targeting an eleven percent operating margin for GM’s luxury division in ten years. Sounds noble and heroic and all but let’s be honest here, because it is a somewhat shaky timetable, at best. Even if everything went swimmingly well for the next decade, which, this just in, never really happens in the car business, this is one giant “ask” for Cadillac.

Cadillac’s de Nysschen, the chief architect of Audi’s success in the U.S. market (followed by a cup of coffee at Infiniti), has been spending most of his time fixing all of the “behind-the-curtain” issues that have plagued Cadillac for decades in his quest to reimagine the division in Audi’s likeness. That means fundamentally altering the way Cadillac operates, including how it interacts with its dealers, while repositioning the brand to be successful in the most competitive auto environment in history.

How is it going? Well, it’s rumbling along in fits and starts, because for every three steps forward there are usually five back, which means the victories can be miniscule. But de Nysschen is ****-bent on willing Cadillac to be great, so there's that.

Unfortunately, the ugly reality for GM’s luxury division is that it is flailing about and spinning its wheels in this market, for any number of reasons. As I said last week, you have to remember that Cadillac has exactly one grand-slam home run product: the Escalade. This unapologetically bold machine is the only product in the Cadillac lineup that has true crossover appeal, in that well-heeled buyers predisposed to owning expensive luxury cars regularly shop – and buy – the Escalade. Believe it or not there are people out there who are hungry for Cadillac to be Cadillac. In fact they’re expecting it. And the only machine that makes that kind of on-the-road statement is the Escalade.

Yes, the “V-Series” cars (ATS and CTS) are superb machines, but their appeal extends to a smattering of enthusiasts who understand what they’re getting, which is a level of high-performance rivaling the very best entries from Germany, a noteworthy accomplishment by GM’s True Believers, to be sure, but not enough to sustain the brand on its own.

But the rest of the lineup? Not so much. The new XT5 shows promise, but it should have been called the Escalade S in order to capitalize on the Escalade’s name recognition and reputation. “XT5” is just another garbled, alphanumeric mishmash nameplate in the marketplace that means less than zero to the average consumer.

As for the civilian ATS and CTS, the two blend together visually on the road to the point that most people only understand the difference with coaching. And the two cars are stepping on each other price-wise at the dealer level, which only adds to the confusion. To top it all off, the new, highly-touted CT6, which looks for all the world like a stretched CTS, is another Cadillac entry that threatens to blend in, too, what with its “restrained” design and already dismally forgettable marketing.

And therein lies the Cadillac dilemma. Remaking the brand’s image into one that appeals to millennials, while emulating Audi at every turn is shaping up to be Cadillac’s Abyss of Despair. Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s chief marketing honcho, has bought into the notion – hard - that aiming marketing at anyone falling outside the millennial demographic is a massive waste of time and money, because the millennials are the future foundation of the brand, and everyone else is officially expendable and inconsequential from this point forward.

And that perspective is all well and good, at least to a very limited degree, but really, whom is he kidding? Millennials aren't buying Cadillacs anytime soon (at least not enough to make a real difference). Instead, it's the rest of us who might consider Cadillac, and it's the rest of us who will actually make a difference when it comes to growing sales – and profitability - for the brand over the next ten years. After that the millennials can take over, if they even care by then.

Let’s consider the CT6, for instance. This is the much-vaunted machine that Cadillac is hanging its future promise on, the car with great technical prowess, boasting advancements in materials and assembly technology that GM confidently reckons are second to none. That’s all well and good, of course, but the new CT6 comes out of the gate with such low - as in less-than-zero - name recognition that it's going to take years and a ton of cash to convince the American consumer public to even take a serious look.

And according to Ellinghaus, it’s the millennials who will lead Cadillac out of the wilderness, which is why he is aiming some of the most tedious advertising in recent memory at these hordes of alleged new buyers who are just waiting in the shadows to embrace the promise of a “new” Cadillac. As if.

To make matters worse, Ellinghaus is dismissing the naysayers who say that the advertising sucks by insisting that the advertising isn't aimed at "old-world" consumers (aka people with the kind of money to spend on big buck luxury cars), but instead it is targeted at the vast, fertile, wide openness that exists in the minds of millennials. And because that’s how he’s spinning it, we're all excused because we're simply not hip enough to grasp the concept.

To echo what I said last week, what a bunch of unmitigated bullshit. That's analogous to a tragically self-important car designer explaining that his or her disastrously ungainly design isn't for you, because you're just not hip enough to understand it.

Even though I am decidedly removed from the precious aura of hipness that Ellinghaus & Co. is aiming for, that doesn’t preclude me from commenting on or “understanding” the CT6 campaign, because I know bad advertising when I see it. And I was in the ad biz long enough to know that the campaign for the CT6 is flat-out craptastic advertising at its most offensive. It is so remarkably uninspired and boring - let's face it, does "first ever" CT6 mean anything to anybody? - that it leaves the distinct impression that Cadillac is simply phoning it in. Add to that the fact that the spots are topped-off with a sullen and shockingly juvenile-sounding female voiceover, one that grows more grating by the spot, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Ellinghaus needs to separate himself from the haze generated from the thought balloons of his precious millennial marketing posse and start making effective advertising that's worthy of the brand. Because this advertising simply doesn't do the product – or the brand - any justice whatsoever.

As for the bigger picture it’s clear to me that de Nysschen and Ellinghaus, while both consumed by their respective missions inside the company, are failing to answer the two most crucial questions hanging in the air about their brand, as in: What is Cadillac? And why should I care?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
So the CT6 suffers from 'zero' name recognition and a blended brand style that overlaps the other products offered for less.


I honestly predict absolutely dismal sales of this product, and relative to Continental, which has a rich name heritage and fresh styling, I expected sales numbers to be that much more dismal.
 

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So the CT6 suffers from 'zero' name recognition and a blended brand style that overlaps the other products offered for less.


I honestly predict absolutely dismal sales of this product, and relative to Continental, which has a rich name heritage and fresh styling, I expected sales numbers to be that much more dismal.
I seem to remember someone saying that having model names distracts strength from the brand name. Only in reality, the brand has to have strength to begin with.
 
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I seem to remember someone saying that having model names distracts strength from the brand name. Only in reality, the brand has to have strength to begin with.
I don't think it has to do with name or alphanumeric nearly as much as it has to do with recognition.

Don't you?
 

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The German luxury brands have always alpha numeric model names. Thus, that is "name recognition" for them. The American luxury brands have had actual names.............. well, until they decided that they wanted to be "cool" like the Germans. At least Lincoln is pulling their heads out of their nether regions.

I agree with the entire rant. The biggest being, advertising "first ever CT6." I hate the "first ever" garbage. No duh................ really?? Could that be why I have never heard of it before?? Condescending much??

I don't expect the CT6 to do great. Already, I can't tell a ATS from a CTS and now to a CT6 until I get close enough to see the badge (this is from the rear, from the front the ATS and CTS do have different light signatures . Unfortunately, the CT6 pretty much has the CTS front light signature, so I won't be able to tell them apart).
 

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Brand X Premium (BXP) is a joke.

The exteriors are stale - we've seen all this before - tacky and unimaginative. After a dozen years, you'd think that BXP would get a clue. Constantly disappearing sales - cannibalism - cramped vehicles - interiors that win awards from the blind but which are tacky, cheap looking, and manage to make an $80k Seedy Six look like a 1975 Chrysler without the rich corinthian dog leather.

Despite all the blather about Audi, it is really nothing more than a Volkswagen with rich Pleather, and exterior design done by rubbing the edges off a bar of soap. There are fine suspension castings, but other than that, the lineup is an expensive joke.

I'm all for PBX infesting the staleness of Audi with rich pleather into their lineup.

At least Audi can make their faux mammalian hide smell better than the current leather aroma of dog feces brown found in PBX showrooms.
 

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If I had my way, CT6 would be renamed Deville and CTS would be renamed Seville. Frankly, I don't have a problem replacing the ATS with a D2xx sedan and renaming it Calais. I remember reading that Lutz originally wanted the ATS to be on Delta. But I expect Cadillac will continue on its current path. Whether its making money, I have no idea.
 

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Who exactly are Cadillac's buyers and what do they want......

It seems that Cadillac has traded one set of buyers for another but done that via heavy program costs all in the goal of raising the perception of Cadillac and with it average transaction prices and profits to cover that increased expenditure.

I can almost guarantee that GM was expecting ATS and CTS to sell in much higher numbers but the luke warm reception has probably given GM bosses food for thought in that over delivering on products in these segments has seen no appreciable change in perception...except of course the way GM bow views Cadillac...

Cadillac versions of Encore, Envision and Enclave at the very least should have been a no brain stepping stone to increasing exposure and revenue in Utility segments that are nothing short of a license to print money. with that financial foundation, it would be so much easier to fund and justify car based products for Cadillac instead of forcing
the wrong segments to sing for their supper...

pants on backwards GM.


And, all of that goes double for Lincoln,
MKC, MKX, Aviator and Navigator - all with fresh designs and the new faces and Lincoln would be away, regardless of the fortunes of MKZ and Continental. :wink2:
 

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One thing I hate about the rear seat of the CT6 is the fact that the power seat switches are on the arm rest. I think Lincoln did it right by putting it on the door because in a rare event you have 3 across the back you can't get to them at all. Most luxury brands put the switches on the door unless the center console cannot be moved.
 

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One thing I hate about the rear seat of the CT6 is the fact that the power seat switches are on the arm rest. I think Lincoln did it right by putting it on the door because in a rare event you have 3 across the back you can't get to them at all. Most luxury brands put the switches on the door unless the center console cannot be moved.
The controls are part of the infotainment package and duplicated in the screens afaik
 
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