If this feels like the Manchester United and Ewanick day, so be it. If we’d pass up these morsels, we’d be accused of selective reporting. As a result of the torrent of leaks, we are now led to believe that the Manchester deal is what the Business Insider calls “one of the biggest marketing contractual screwups of all times.”
“GM leaders had to ask for Ewanick’s resignation after they perceived that he failed to make clear some details of the contract to the senior management team, the people said. As a result, the leaders didn’t know the true cost of the United deal, worth about $300 million to be on the jerseys, one of the people said. GM plans to honor the arrangement, which was altered from what Ewanick originally crafted, the people said. “
What is this, amateur hour? Apparently, someone is trying to push a story of the chief marketing man surreptitiously signing a $300 million (according to Bloomberg,) or $600 million (according to Reuters) deal, then someone finds out, the chief marketing man is fired, the contract is changed and signed two days later. Is this what we are supposed to believe?
This is not how this works. At least not in a normal company. There a deal sheets drawn up, and reviewed by Purchasing, which usually wants a better deal. Controllers get involved. Budget request are made, contracts are drawn up, multiple revisions are discussed between lawyers, multiple signatures are made. Proudly leaking a story of GM agreeing to a sponsorship deal without knowing its price is admitting that GM is run by the Keystone Kops.
Advertising Age sees it the same way:
People close to GM say they’d be surprised that, in a company with so many checks and balances, that a sponsorship deal would get through if it wasn’t airtight and squeaky clean.
“I find it hard to believe that that would be the impetus for Joel leaving the organization, because there are just too many processes and signature authority needed that would eliminate,” one executive close to GM told Ad Age. “It’d be almost impossible, and given Sarbanes Oxley there is so much oversight on all these deals that go on. I couldn’t believe that GM would be so lax with their controls…especially since the whole bankruptcy situation. It could be GM not looking to have egg on their face because they hired the wrong person to start with.”
These leaks are shockingly naive, and they hurt the company. If an executive gets caught double-dealing, then you quietly let him go, or even better, tie him down with a two year contract to keep his mouth as shut as yours. If the CEO really forgot to ask “now what is this supposed to cost us?” then please, don’t leak it.
This is not an Ewanick disaster. This is a Selim Bingol disaster. The job of a PR chief is to make the CEO stand above all. These leaks make Akerson look incompetent.