By on May 10, 2010

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.

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15 Comments on “GM Snagged Ewanick After Offering “Autonomy”...”

  • avatar

    How about this:

    “GM Assurance – We assure you our market share will continue shrinking, so as a GM customer you can feel more special each and every day.”

  • avatar

    “GM: Come drive what your tax dollars unwittingly saved… and then buy a Toyota.”

  • avatar

    Right out of the gate he’s got to keep Ancient Ed off camera.

    And not lying about Federal loans being paid back…

  • avatar
    Rusted Source

    How about “Enemas for Everyone” instead? Then at least we get something we can make use of.

  • avatar

    Any word yet on what Susan Docherty’s wonderful new GM assignment will be? Or is she going to share an office with LaNeve at the Good Hands People?

  • avatar

    Good luck to the guy, he’s certainly got his work cut out for him.
    I guess hoping for some honesty is too much? Damn, I forgot, this is marketing we’re talking about.

  • avatar

    I lol’d at the idea of ‘autonomy’ at GM.

  • avatar

    Well, whatever he does, it is a guarantee that he won’t do worse than Susan Docherty, the genius behind the HUMMER “Restore your manhood” campaign.

  • avatar

    Let’s see. It took several months, as well as actually taking another job, before GM’s bureaucracy decided it could offer Ewanick the autonomy he wanted? And he didn’t see a problem?

  • avatar

    “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.”

    This line practically recognizes that the new GM is the old GM and the “notoriously oppressive bureaucracy” is still in place. It’s pretty sad that a new hire, a star of the industry, has to ask for autonomy as a condition to come on board. Even more sad, GM took several months to accept such a “condition”.
    I wish Ewanick good luck.

    • 0 avatar

      ^ I thought that too, taking several months to decide if a new exec should be able to not have to take several months to have an idea shot down or not. At least it shows that Ewanwick has the lay of the land already and he knows that the one thing that the GM suits are good at is protecting their positions.

      Good luck to him, I think GM could do well if they had some coherence in their product line and a marketing strategy that wasn’t out of 1974.

  • avatar

    Every time I scroll by this article, I read ‘shagged’ rather than ‘snagged’. That would have made for a far more interesting corporate situation…

  • avatar

    Unless you have the product no marketing wiz can change the fortunes of a company around. The smart move would be taking the job at Honda.

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