Cadillac Says Decision to Hire McDonald’s Vet as CMO Won’t Affect Its Relationship With Publicis Groupe

By Patrick Coffee 

Today Cadillac officially hired Deborah Wahl as its new chief marketing officer three months after her predecessor Uwe Ellinghaus resigned, citing unspecified health problems.

Big trouble for Publicis, right? Not according to the client.

They gave us the following statement:


“Deborah’s appointment will not impact our AOR relationship with Rokkan, within the Publicis Groupe. Rokkan has been a part of the Publicis Group and working on pieces of the Cadillac business since 2014.  Their scope expanded towards the end of 2016.”

First, we didn’t realize Rokkan had assumed the lead role. And it’s interesting to see the client make such a firm commitment to its agency.

The Wall Street Journal, which broke the Wahl story this morning, reported that “Cadillac has lost U.S. market share each year since 2014, even as its sales in China—the world’s biggest auto market—have tripled over the same period,” adding that the company “now lags far behind BMW, Lexus and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz.”

The fact that Wahl previously worked at Lexus hints that Cadillac looks to retake that former pole position … but does not want to review its creative advertising business.

Cadillac spent $270 million in paid media in the U.S. in 2016 and $188 million last year, according to Kantar Media.