The marketing chief for General Motors Co.’s Cadillac division is leaving the luxury brand following a four-year turnaround effort has seen U.S. market share slide, even as the brand grows rapidly in China.
Uwe Ellinghaus chose to leave his position as Cadillac’s chief marketing officer effective Dec. 31, according to a statement from Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. Recruited from BMW AG earlier in the decade, Mr. Ellinghaus was charged with rebooting Cadillac’s image, but U.S. sales have declined even as the overall luxury market expanded in recent years.
With only a sliver of the U.S. market, the brand has turned its attention to China, where sales have tripled over the last four years and are on pace this year to top Cadillac’s U.S. sales for the first time, likely above 160,000 vehicles. Meanwhile, U.S. sales totaled about 141,000 through November, 5% lower than last year.
In an email, Mr. Ellinghaus, an avid marathoner, said he is leaving Cadillac for personal reasons, including an expected monthslong recovery from a complex foot surgery.
Revitalizing Cadillac is a key aspect of GM Chief Executive Mary Barra’s broader growth strategy. Once dominant in the U.S., Cadillac now is No. 5 in U.S. luxury sales, far behind BMW, Dailmer AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus division.
Mr. Ellinghaus, 47, was instrumental in the relocation of Cadillac’s headquarters to Manhattan from Detroit and has steered marketing themes toward fashion and design as a way to draw younger buyers and cultivate a more “contemporary” expression of luxury. He also oversaw Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign, which has focused on innovative artists and entrepreneurs.
The executive also struck a sponsorship deal with the Academy Awards while pulling back from longstanding ties to professional golf. He introduced a vehicle-subscription service—Book Cadillac—and led the opening of Cadillac House, a coffee shop and exhibit space at the brand’s SOHO home office.
Mr. Ellinghaus has served as Cadillac’s No. 2 executive under Mr. de Nysschen, a former Audi AG executive who joined the brand in fall 2014.
Cadillac will conduct a search for a new marketing chief, Mr. de Nysschen said. The resignation was reported earlier by trade publication Automotive News.
Write to Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com