Advertising Age reports that GM’s surprise landing of former Hyundai and Nissan marketing boss Joel Ewanick nearly didn’t happen. In fact it didn’t happen once. GM offered Ewanick the top marketing job over two months ago according to AA, but he turned down that offer due to concerns about the position’s autonomy from GM’s entrenched “old guard” bureaucracy. As AA’s insider source puts it:
He didn’t want to have to go through a half-dozen people to get something done. He wanted to be able to get on the phone and call one person and say “Can I do this, yes or no?” and get a quick answer.
Apparently it took GM several months before coming back to Ewanick, who is considered a “rock star” of automotive marketing, with an offer that included freedom from its notoriously oppressive bureaucracy.
Money was apparently not a big factor for Ewanick, who will likely make about $750k per year, not counting stock options, due to the conditions of GM’s bailout. Instead, it seems that ego and the sense of challenge is what is motivating wanick. As IHS Global Insight’s Aaron Bragman puts it
Can you imagine putting down ‘Turned around GM marketing’ on your résumé?
And there’s no doubt that Ewanick faces a hell of a mountain to climb as GM’s new marketing boss. Right out of the gate, Ewanick has to make a decision on the forthcoming Chevrolet marketing campaign that is apparently being built around the tagline “Excellence For Everyone.” Early reaction to the tagline, dreamed up by Ewanick’s predecessor Susan Docherty, has not been great and Ewanick will have to make a quick decision on whether to run with that line or to take charge of the situation. With those ads about 30 days out, his options are still open… and his decision will set the tone for his tenure at GM.