Last weekend, GM’s marketing head honcho, Joel Ewanick, resigned. Business Insider covered it, the Detroit News covered it and a whole bunch of other websites covered the story too. People had a love-hate relationship with the man. He’s the automotive world’s frenemy. Think of Ewanick like coffee. It’s bad for your teeth and probably your health, but it’s just the kick in the pants most people need to get their day started.
Ewanick fired advertising agencies, started a war with Facebook and said Super Bowl commercials were a waste of money. Ewanick also changed company culture, developed an advertising strategy to save GM billions, helped turn around a failing brand, took risks with their media spends and demanded creative ideas. So what does Ewanick’s exit mean for Mojo Motors, car shoppers and dealerships? Let’s take a look.
Ewanick’s ousting shouldn’t affect car shoppers or current GM car owners because he didn’t control pricing or vehicle design. Car shoppers and GM should be more worried about the death of Bob Lutz, but we figure he’s got another 20 years left. Ewanick did, however, create incentives to attract car shoppers liked fixed pricing and return guarantees. Those might get tossed to the wayside in the future, but for now, those incentives continue to live on. You can credit Ewanick for overseeing some advertising that made GM owners proud and car shoppers want to join the club. Especially this 2012 Super Bowl gem for the Silverado.
AutoBlog reported that GM will stick with the consolidated advertising agency Ewanick put into place called Commonwealth. This means brand messaging will stay the same, at least in the short term because a complete re-brand of GM entities like Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac or GMC can take months, sometimes years. No major shake ups should be expected unless GM poaches a marketing executive from another company.
If that happens, everything and anything could be on the chopping block. The incentives mentioned above like fixed pricing or return guarantees could change the amount of people visiting dealers or buying GM vehicles. And even though Ewanick resigned/got fired for his Manchester United sponsorship priced at $39 million per year for the next seven years, having Chevrolet plastered all over what is considered the world’s greatest football club’s jersey certainly can’t hurt the Chevy image. Nonetheless, GM isn’t recovering as quickly as expected from their government bailout, but is Ewanick really to blame?
We liked Ewanick because he was a balsy marketer. Pulling out of Facebook drove conversations in our office and really made us consider our ad spends. We also thought GM brand equity improved under his guidance, increasing demand for GM products (which is great for all of our Chevy dealers). We like seeing major manufacturers getting comfortable with social media and making aggressive ad moves, it only improves the customer experience. That being said, Mojo’s own marketing head, Dan Harman, has trouble sleeping at night if he sees a “Chevy runs deep” ad even though some would consider this to be un-American.