Cadillac: C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett (12/10)

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Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- On this week's episode of "C-Suite with Jeffrey Hayzlett," host Jeffrey Hayzlett talks with GM executives at the Los Angeles Auto Show to find out how they are trying to shed the perception that Cadillac is a luxury car for your grandparents. (Source: Bloomberg)

Bankrupt company, bankruptcy d -- howdy be a luxury brand?

For 30 years, we lost our way.

Sales had declined.

How do get away with not listening to customers?

How do i know you are listening now?

The biggest thing is still pushing through that perception that it is the old man car.

We produce the world's best cars again.

We can do this.

It is cadillac.

It has an incredibly appealing design.

I'm jeffrey hayzlett.

I'm on a journey inside the biggest brands in america.

I have been a cmo, ceo, and a boardroom cowboy.

Now i'm visiting the executives in charge of the most powerful companies in the world to see how they have tackle the challenges of the c-suite.

I'm in the car capital of the world, detroit.

It is the birthplace of the american automobile.

It is one of the most iconic car companies, cadillac.

It is a bygone era of luxury.

A status symbol for my father or grandfather.

Cadillac has a lot of baggage.

They were a bankrupt company located in a bankruptcy.

Cadillac means market share and expanding luxury category come a category that has been dominated by european manufacturers.

Does this man have what it takes to get out of the parking lot?

How long will it take adalat to be the lead car once again -- cadillac to be a lead car once again?

They are updating and even replaced -- new designs and new partners -- could that mean sales could grow?

I do not know if they have what it takes, but we will find out.

Bob ferguson and his team are in charge of the cadillac global marketing strategy.

It is their job to restore cadillac to the glories of bygone years, a major part of the revitalization to peel the younger and hipper customers.

A lot of history sitting behind you.

1954 and president eisenhower came here.

Lots of great cars had been designed and built.

A lot of big percent nowadays.

-- personalities.

When i think of the cadillac, i think back to this area.

It was bill in a wonderful place and a wonderful era.

-- built in a wonderful place and a wonderful era.

We have to make our products relevant to today.

That is what i am all about.

It is a great heritage.

What are the elements of making cadillac grow?

Design products that are better.

It needs to be a challenger.

I would look at market share.

When was the last time that cadillac lead market share?

We lead in the leisure sector in 1976 when i was a junior in high school.

That has to be a big wall staring you in the face.

What was it like going home after your very first day?

My first day here were shortly after the company had a bankruptcy.

I sat down with my wife and said, i still think the team is going through a mourning process.

They are great and determined people, we have to help them regain their confidence.

Is this a comeback story?

Absolutely.

I'm confident that cadillac will make progress.

We have relevant vehicles and cars that consumers want to buy.

We need to build a brand.

We have a strong product.

What are those elements that make that up?

That way you can say year from now, hey, you did it.

To win car of the year.

We're the fastest growing brand in the industry.

It is heading in the right direction.

I'm heading 90 miles outside of detroit to a plant.

Cadillac is manufacturing cars they believe will power their comeback.

Tell me what your role is.

I'm the marketing manager for cadillac.

You are in charge of the hot products.

Exactly.

We have got the ats that rolled out last year.

Let's go back in time.

You guys are talking about getting cadillac back to the old state.

What happened to the brand?

For 30 years, we lost our way.

We didn't listen to your customers like we should have.

We are starting to rebuild the brand.

How do you get away with not listening to customers?

I think what happened was we were so dominant in the marketplace that we did not think he had to.

You guys are still gm.

It is part of your legacy.

How do i know you're listening now?

When you look at what we are doing, journalist look at the car and say, wow.

This is phenomenal.

You can actually see the expectation of the customers.

When we look at the age, used to be an old guy brand.

Now you're trying to turn it into a hipper thing.

Are you succeeding on that?

Yes, but it takes time.

We are making process.

We are making a contact size vehicle -- compact size vehicle.

When you look at the numbers, are you on target or behind?

We are on target.

The market is very hot right now.

What is slowing you down?

You have got double digits.

We are at tony five percent increase year-over-year.

-- 25% increase year-over-year.

Is the single thing beating you to the number one spot -- i believe that.

It is not the old dealership that it was before.

It is about tampering up that perceptual change.

-- amping up that perceptual change.

How can you make the investment now and not make it then?

Is not that we didn't make it, but it was the wrong ones.

? cadillac believes a can design its way to relevance with its new line of luxury vehicles.

Unlike vehicles of the past, the new cars are sleeker and sexier.

It is all part of a plan to attract new customers.

You are sitting in a place that not many beep will -- b that not many people come to.

It you are in the secret space where we hide to create new things for cadillac.

Howdy put those defined -- designed -- how to put those design elements to make young people want that car?

Look at mercedes and bmw.

They are into lightweight and nimble driving and lean, athletic silhouette.

When i approach the design of a car like this, the new cts for instance, all of the line work is drawn out to be thin and lightweight.

It looks like something you want to get in and drive.

It needs to feel alive to the customer.

Customers in the 1950s and 60s pop the luxury was in the pound.

That is not so now.

Brand reputation -- that is what you do.

How do you bring the reputation back?

There's a different way when you look at reaching to millennials, the younger people.

It is starting that awareness that cadillac is not what it used to be.

You are saying awareness.

I'm looking at the numbers if i'm on the board of directors.

We're looking at people with disposable income that are still able to buy our cars.

Age 35-45 are right at the end of the millennials.

You have a promise to the greater gm corporation to the return -- to return it to -- absolutely.

How do you measure that?

Awareness.

Sales are pretty good indicator of relevance.

There are younger buyers.

I'm one of them.

One year ago before i joined cadillac, i considered -- what i have considered buying a cadillac?

No.

were you guys having the spring conversations?

Every day.

-- having these frank conversations?

Everyday.

We are growing year-over-year.

We are the fastest-growing mainstream car brand in the world.

Is that because you're having lower sales and now you're jumping up?

Will when you go from one to two -- [laughter] we doubled the number of sales in china.

We will grow in the u.s. we promised the board that cadillac would become a real source of revenue growth and profit generation.

A major part of the equation to boost cadillac's revenue is a modernized look.

I will speak with the company's interior design chief to see how the new look is evolving.

What is your role?

I'm the design manager for cadillac.

You design the things that are inside this car?

Yes, and i sighed.

-- and outside.

All of the colors and the material.

I think a lot of it revolves around color selection and material selection.

The quality of the material is far beyond what they have been in the past in terms of really feeling like furniture quality leather.

Why were you not allowed to do that before?

I do not think it was a matter of not being allowed to.

I think it is more like working with the buying base to develop material to the standard.

When we scale that -- it sounds to me that you do not have a standard before.

I think that has developed a lot over time.

How do we set cadillac apart?

That is something that has been developing for the last number of years.

Michigan might be the car capital of the world, but cadillac is rolling out some of its most ambitious new designs at the los angeles auto show.

I'm in california to speak with the president of the cadillac parent company, general motors.

Back in 1983, you started as an intern here.

What was your perception of the cadillac brand?

Big, front-wheel-drive.

You have been here for a long time.

Take me back to the darker days when cadillac really was the brand it is not today?

To be honest with you, we never really competed with the german and japanese brands that really took the luxury market away from us.

During my career, we have not been very good.

You seem to be trying.

How can you make the investment now and not then?

We did make some investments, but -- just the wrong ones?

The wrong ones.

Bankrupt company, bankruptcy -- how do you be a luxury brand?

Cadillac -- that was something earned in our early days with the brand.

It was the end of the world.

It is based on the desirability of the product itself.

We have got to do that here it - - do that.

We need to move fast.

It we produce the world's best car again, we can do this.

? we are here at the l.a. car show.

Is this like the prom for you?

I wouldn't consider it the prom.

It is more like a traveling circus.

And looking around the floor.

This does not look like old man cadillac.

The one behind it looks like the kind of cadillac i would buy after my second or third divorce as a guy.

We are having a lot of fun with cadillac.

We have more cadillacs underdevelopment today than during any other time in the brand.

It is that busy.

When i look at the brand -- bankrupt company, bankrupt city -- it does not reek of luxury brand anymore.

What are the challenges?

The challenges are many.

One is time.

We don't have time.

The customers will not wait for us to do the right thing or do the right vehicle.

How many years?

We need to move fast.

There are certain gaps we have in our portfolio.

Is this one of the gaps?

This muscle car?

That is one of the gaps.

I would love to see that car in production.

It has got more shape to it.

It is a different proportion.

We will continue to move and evolve the brand.

Can't stand still.

What was it that caused you to say, we can do it like we used to?

We cannot be our dad's cadillac.

We look at what the challenges were and get out of detroit and take a look at the industry.

Which was when?

During bankruptcy.

You hear that terrible headline.

I brought the entire design team together.

We will get through this bankruptcy.

We will come out of the other side and everyone will look at where we are from a design perspective.

How do you measure for a design team success?

It is a lot more than a pretty picture or a car.

We are not designing this to hang it in the modern museum of art.

It is a design that kenexa people on an emotional level that they have got to have this vehicle -- that connects with people on an emotional level that they have got to get this vehicle.

What is the greatest learning you have had as part of this experience are making this brand change?

Build the right car.

Consideration is everything.

We have our research clinic.

They would not have considered a cadillac in years past.

Now they do.

Build the right card -- no- brainer.

Make the right choices.

That is where the magic is.

I think we have made the right choice in a lot of ways.

Dynamics.

Exterior aesthetics.

These are things that i resonated with the customers.

I worry that old perceptions will keep people from getting our cars a chance.

We need to find a way so people will take an opportunity to get in our car and experience it.

That is a new big hurdle to -- that is a big hurdle to overcome.

What will that success look like?

I couldn't settle for anything less than number one.

Numbers are the most important to indicate cadillac is on the rebound.

There are other measurement specialties brand is heading in the right direction.

Had to describe the new line of products?

I drive the cars twice a year and we go out there to be competition.

We do it.

I come back from the strips -- trips.

It is a design i have never seen in cadillac before.

That is on the track.

Do you go into board meetings and say, these are our competitors?

What was that like?

Here is what we are doing -- we beat them.

Bmw in some cases.

We did the ats sedan last year.

Is it faster than you expected?

For that car, yes.

If we can build the world's best car again, we can do this.

How do you do that?

Is it winning car of the year or is it in sales and profitability?

Neither.

Sales and profitability come from sales -- car excellence.

Is it the best handling car?

Is it the best steering type?

Is incredibly appealing in design type?

When you look at those things, you have to have a compelling story of that product.

And sales numbers.

You get someone in the seat of one of these cars -- that is a tough thing to do.

That is why it will not happen overnight.

Is the goal to bring cadillac back to that premiere number one?

Yes, it is.

What do you think will be the timeframe for that?

I don't know.

We can do everything at once, but we will introduce new, world-class vehicles.

If i were a customer or someone looking at your business, at what point would i be able to say, they are back?

They did it?

I think when we stand in a place like this and have a conversation that is quite different around cadillac, i know we are pretty close.

For cadillac, i am reminded of a company turnaround.

They are jarred awake.

They slam on the brakes.

They rose the brand with an aging client base that almost died offense -- fell asleep and woke up out of touch and trailing in the luxury market.

Now they are driving forward with a new energy to be captured their former glory to be the brand they once were.

Whether it is bankruptcy, the economy, rb lacing their not iconic company they used to be, for cadillac, the key question is -- will they drive there fast enough?

? .

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.

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