Uwe Ellinghaus hates clichés. As CMO of Cadillac, his main directive is to avoid them: no ads with SUVs zooming down a mountain, or a litany of hot features. Some of Cadillac's latest ads don't even show a car. When your sales lag far behind your competitors, you have the freedom to do something drastic, and Ellinghaus, who joined Cadillac as marketing chief in 2014 after a stint as evp of marketing and sales at Montblanc and 15 years as a marketing exec at BMW, relishes that freedom. Once the height of cool in the 1950s and '60s, Cadillac today is a 114-year-old underdog brand. While its sales rose 2.6 percent in 2015, the automaker remains far behind the three top-selling luxury car brands—BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus—according to Automotive News.