INTERVIEW WITH DON BUTLER
V.P. of MARKETING - CADILLAC
V. V. Haldavnekar
Having a one-on-one conversation with cur guys is always fun as they are almost always willing to drop a hint or two underneath the hawk eyes of the HR representatives.
Don Butler opened up with us along with few other bloggers on the first day of the NAIAS. Mr. Butler reiterated Cadillac's commitment on bringing the best vehicles in their respective segments. He gave a perfect American vernacular of the top of the line item being a "Cadillac" of the item and not a BMW, Lexus or Mercedes of the item and hence the desire to regain the mantle of the standard of the world, which meant making vehicles worthy to fit that bill.
Mr. Butler believes that a Cadillac customer is self-made, irrespective of the age and demographic group. He believes that the customer of a Cadillac likes to make his or her own statement and therefore desires a car that can do so. With that premise in mind, Mr. Butler promised that Cadillac's design will continue on its existing bold traditions and would develop and apply the same in future applications. Cadillac's desire to pay attention to details while developing cars that customers want is the main driver inside Cadillac's design studios.
The first thing Cadillac would like to do is to convince the customers to give its vehicles a try. The brand understands that time is against it and therefore wants to make sure that design, customer service, and vehicles are customer oriented than the other way around. Extending this strategy further – Mr. Butler reiterated that Cadillac would be taking a cautious approach in EU, where the brand has a non-existential presence.
To succeed in EU, Cadillac is going to be conservative by first targeting the right market with a flexible plan rather than planning a network according to the expected optimistic sales targets. He believes that there is a market albeit a niche to start that plan. However, moving forward he believes Cadillac's need to diversify the portfolio to satiate the European customers. This also means, exploring various alternatives of propulsion, which includes diesel. Oil-burners occupy more than half of the old world's markets. These alternatives will also make their way on this side of the Atlantic.
Mr. Butler stated that Cadillac's introduction of the SCCA CTS-V Coupe SCCA race car portrays the brand's commitment to racing. The brand believes that SCCA would be a solid platform to showcase the brand's racing pedigree and build up from there. Cadillac actively involved racing professionals from Pratt and Miller and other groups to develop the car. The bread and butter CTS-V coupe, which is already a prodigious racer, was a good template to start on to work with the engine, suspensions, and body work while working on reducing the girth to make it even more race track worthy. While Mr. Butler did not get into specifics when asked about the long term commitment to racing, he did say that participation in SCCA was just the beginning for the brand's strife to be a standard in racing.
Here is a hope that the lines we are reading between his dialogues are really intriguing.