Posts Tagged ‘ewanick fired’

Ewanick Reportedly Ousted for Hiding True Cost of Soccer Deal

Whistle-blower turned executive in.

by on Aug.08, 2012

Former GM marketing czar Joel Ewanick, shown with the Chevrolet Volt.

General Motors’ controversial marketing czar Joel Ewanick was brought down by a whistle-blower who revealed that the executive was trying to hide the true cost of a deal with the British soccer team Manchester United, according to a new report.

A one-time Hyundai exec who was brought in to shake up GM’s staid marketing system, Ewanick was a top lieutenant to the Detroit maker’s CEO Dan Akerson.  But the chief executive began the process of firing Ewanick for reasons the maker has yet to reveal.

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Intense, last-minute negotiations allowed the marketing chief to save face by claiming to have “voluntarily” resigned, on July 29th, but insiders quickly began to suggest that something more serious than just a poor showing in sales had led to his departure.


Ewanick No Rogue Player, Says CEO Akerson

GM officials offer insight into ouster – and future ad strategy.

by on Aug.02, 2012

Former GM marketing czar Joel Ewanick was a team player, suggested CEO Dan Akerson, countering reports he was ousted for rogue behavior.

Ousted General Motors global marketing czar Joel Ewanick was no rogue operating outside the corporate playbook, GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson made clear during a conference call with industry analysts today.

It was the chief executive’s first comments on the sudden departure of 52-year-old Ewanick since the marketing chief was summarily shown the door by the giant automaker last Sunday.  Though termed a “voluntary” resignation, subsequent comments by a GM spokesman – and speculation both inside and outside the company – has raised questions about whether Ewanick had committed a significant ethical breach that led to his summary termination.

During a call to discuss GM’s weak second-quarter earnings, Akerson and other officials made it clear that the company is not about to make any significant changes in the often-controversial marketing strategy laid out during Ewanick’s two years on the job.

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“What you saw in the marketplace was a thought-out strategy,” said Akerson, who added that Ewanick had operated as part of “a team,” and not as a free agent or cowboy.

(GM earnings tumble 40% during Q2. Click Here.)

The CEO declined to discuss the specific reasons for Ewanick’s departure, however.  Insiders report that intense negotiations ended Sunday with the marketing executive allowed to bill the move as a resignation.  But spokesman Greg Martin raised serious questions when he later stated that Ewanick, “failed to meet the expectations the company has of its employees.”

The rumor mill quickly went into overdrive, receiving numerous, and clearly unsubstantiated, calls suggesting a serious ethical breach was committed.  Other reports, widely circulated, have indicated Ewanick may have failed to follow proper channels in approving a mega-million-dollar deal with the wildly popular Manchester United soccer team, and a subsequent partnership with the Liverpool Football Club.

Both deals were signature moves for Ewanick, whom Akerson recently described as a “glass-breaker” willing to slaughter sacred industry cows.  He terminated long-time partnerships with key ad agencies such as Campbell-Ewald, which had represented Chevrolet for more than half a century.  He pulled GM out of the Super Bowl and denounced Facebook advertising days before the social media site’s closely watched IPO.

(For the original report on Ewanick’s ouster, Click Here.)

It’s no surprise, said a close friend of Ewanick’s, that “the long knives came out as soon as he was gone.  Everyone wanted to help drag down his reputation now that he couldn’t fight back.”

Akerson’s comments don’t entirely solve matters.  The question of why Ewanick was pushed out is still a mystery, though today’s 40% decline in GM earnings – coming a day after the maker reported a 6.4% decline in July sales while the overall market was up markedly – suggests that the real problem was Ewanick’s failure to deliver new customers.  That, ultimately, is what a marketing chief is supposed to do.

Ewanick might have been “disruptive,” said analyst Rebecca Lindland, of HIS Automotive, but “disruptive doesn’t (necessarily) mean positive results.”

(For more on July sales, Click Here.)

GM’s market share has slipped by nearly two points compared to year-ago levels, at 18.1%.  Rival Toyota has gained nearly two points during the same period – though that includes business it recovered after the disastrous production cuts it suffered in the wake of Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

There has been some speculation that GM’s interim marketing chief Alan Batey – who appears to be the man to beat for a permanent assignment – might make some major changes in direction. But when asked if he might walk away from the Ewanick-approved “Chevy Runs Deep” ad tagline, or cancel plans to shift global GM advertising to a newly formed consortium called Commonwealth, Batey responded, “the simple answer is no.”

The fact that GM actually expanded the Manchester United relationship on Monday, the day after Ewanick’s departure, should have been a signal that the maker will hold to the status quo, at least for now.

“As I told you, this has nothing to do with our strategy,” continued Batey. “We are executing as per our plan. We have always been one team, and that continues. So you shouldn’t read anything into this that we didn’t announce, and there is nothing else to add to that. But are we changing strategy? Are we evaluating any of our partners? No.”

If any decision is likely to be reversed in the near-term, it is GM’s move to pull $10 million in advertising on Facebook.  There have been numerous meetings between senior GM executives and their counterparts at Facebook, meetings that have gone all the way up the chain of command to GM CEO Akerson.

But Ewanick had telegraphed from the start that the Facebook ad cancellation would be reviewed, so this is no surprise.

“There is no change in direction,” Batey repeated during today’s call.  “There’s no change in priorities.”

Ewanick Gone But GM Not Planning Major Changes in Ad Strategy – Yet

Maker will retain Commonwealth, Manchester United deals – but may soon return to Facebook.

by on Aug.01, 2012

Gone but not forgotten, as most of Joel Ewanick's controversial moves will stand -- for now.

While the precise reason for General Motors’ decision to oust global marketing czar Joel Ewanick remains unclear there is no question that the executive radically shook things up during his two-year tenure at GM headquarters in Detroit’s Renaissance Center.

Among other things Ewanick abandoned a network of ad agencies GM worked with – some for more than half a century – walked away from the Super Bowl and Facebook but also inked massive deals with two of Europe’s most storied soccer teams. The bigger question is whether Ewanick’s interim successor, Alan Batey, will reverse some of those key decisions.

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For the moment, a GM spokesman told, that isn’t going to happen.  In fact, the day after news began to leak out about Ewanick’s ouster GM confirmed it had upgraded its ties to Manchester United, arguably the most popular soccer club in the world.  Initially, its Chevrolet brand would have gotten banner presence but now it will place its name on the team’s players jerseys starting in 2014, a move guaranteeing all the more visibility during ManUnited’s wide TV coverage.


Update: What Sank GM Marketing Czar Ewanick?

Sources hint of “serious breaches.”

by on Jul.30, 2012

Former GM Global Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick gone after two years.

This story has been updated with more details on the apparent reasons for Joel Ewanick’s departure from General Motors.

Was it simply a matter of weak advertising and declining market share or was there something more sinister that sank Joel Ewanick, General Motors’ hard-charging global marketing czar?

In an unusual and unexpected move, GM issued a terse release announcing that the 52-year-old Ewanick would “voluntarily” resign from the post he took in May 2010 promising to be an agent of change shaking up the automaker’s traditionally staid approach to marketing.  In his two years on the job, Ewanick showed no mercy, abandoning long-time GM ad agencies and walking away from traditional marketing alliances but while there may be many who now are feeling a sense of schadenfreude, or joy at his misfortune, the big question is what happened.

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GM’s initial statement offered little to no clues and the automotive and marketing worlds were abuzz with questions related to the efficacy of the actions Ewanick has taken during his tenure, such as dropping long-time Chevrolet ad agency Campbell-Ewald, pulling GM out of the Super Bowl ad sweepstakes and aborting its ad deal with Facebook. But, a day after the news of his departure began leaking out, there are hints appearing of something more serious.

Insiders now suggest that Ewanick ran afoul of GM policy in terms of handling the finances of a massive partnership the maker recently negotiated with European soccer super-team Manchester United.

“He failed to meet the expectations the company has of its employees,” stated senior GM spokesman Greg Martin, declining to discuss specifics.


Designer Dave Lyon Also Out at GM

Was to have headed Opel/Vauxhall.

by on Jul.30, 2012

GM designer Dave Lyon with the GMC Acadia Denali at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show.

The revolving door at General Motors continues to spin ever faster.  And designer Dave Lyon is the latest to fly out onto the street.

His unexpected departure was confirmed just as GM announced the “voluntary” termination of global marketing chief Joel Ewanick.  But at least a half-dozen other senior executives have either left or been shoved out from the maker’s global empire in recent weeks, including the head of GM’s battery-car program.

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The 43-year-old Lyon was considered a rising star within the GM design world and could have firmed up his future in the assignment he was expected to take in the coming days as head of styling for the troubled Opel/Vauxhall subsidiary.

Lyon had already earned a solid reputation for his work on products as diverse as the GMC Acadia Denali and the new Cadillac XTS.  He oversaw development of the interior design for the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, as well.


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