When I was in the automotive propaganda business, one of the most horrifying experiences were changes on the top. CEOs could come and go without drama. Changing marketing managers meant serious trouble. It’s a bit like Indian widow-burning: He goes, you go up in flames. When Joel Ewanick came to GM, he had his old buddies Goodby, Silverstein in tow. When Joel left, the funeral pyre was assembled for Goodby.
Here come the matches.
Officially, General Motors Co’s Chevrolet brand “is consolidating its global advertising”, as Reuters reports. In actuality, the Goodby hotshop is out, and McCann, the agency that (along with Interpublic Group member Campbell-Ewald) did GM business since the days of the hand crank, is in sole control.
When Ewanick wanted to give the job to Goodby, Joel ran into a wall of passive-aggressiveness. A political compromise was reached. Interpublic Group’s McCann and Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners created a joint venture called Commonwealth.
Picture a joint venture between the Wahhabi Muslims and the Holy Rollers and you have a feeling for how long that joint venture would last after the spiritual leader’s departure.
With Goodby gone, Commonwealth officially continues as Chevrolet’s global advertising agency. De facto, it is a counter-coup by the old cronies.
With McCann back in the saddle, expect more of the same old from GM: Cars that look like you’ve seen them ages ago, launched with recycled commercials.