Dealers Uneasy About Turnover At GM's Sales & Marketing Team

TTAC Staff
by TTAC Staff
dealers uneasy about turnover at gm s sales marketing team

Duncan Aldred, Brian Sweeney and Don Johnson.

As inventories of unsold cars surge past 100 days’ supply, GM has shuffled its sales and marketing organizations in an attempt to move some of that bloated inventory. Last week, GM moved Buick-GMC sales chief Brian Sweeney, 46, to the top sales post at Chevrolet, taking over for the retiring Don Johnson. Sweeney’s replacement will be Duncan Aldred, 43, who most recently has been running GM’s British brand, Vauxhall. Both executives will will report to new U.S. sales chief Steve Hill, 53.

Automotive News is reporting that the continued changes in personnel at GM’s sales and marketing divisions has been a source of frustration for dealers and ad agency executives in recent years. Some dealers feel that what they see as GM’s strongest product lineup in generations is being compromised by chaos in the marketing team responsible for promoting those new products.

“The changes can be a distraction. It makes it hard for dealers to buy into the go-to-market strategy,” said the unidentified owner of a Chevrolet dealership and a Buick-GMC store out West who spoke to Automotive News.

When he takes the job, Sweeney will be Chevy’s fifth U.S. sales chief in less than five years. Cadillac has had four sales chiefs during that period.

Paul Edwards took over U.S. marketing for Chevy only last month, appointed by the brand’s global marketing chief, Tim Mahoney, who himself has been on the job for just 10 months. Cadillac’s global marketing boss, Uwe Ellinghaus, 44, started in that position last month.

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13 of 17 comments
  • 05lgt 05lgt on Feb 11, 2014

    Outmoded perceptions are the norm. Perception always lags reality, it's built in. GM benefited from this lag in its long slow slide, now they don't want to do the work of providing better than perceived product for long enough to shift perception. They need a strategy that survives this reality, not to keep changing plans in a Quixotic quest for instant results.

    • JD321 JD321 on Feb 11, 2014

      They're MBAs. When all you have is a hammer...Everything looks like a nail.

  • Ellomdian Ellomdian on Feb 11, 2014

    The Uwe Ellinghaus hiring sounded a LOT of warning sirens - Cadillac has spent a decade genuinely trying to revamp their product, and then they hire someone who has... dubious... credentials, to say the least. GM has had their strongest historical successes on the backs of their engineers, and every time the marketing people take charge, it bodes ill winds. It's telling how much bull the Corvette program had to go through - imagine if it had been driven by one of these Image-conscious Branding/Marketing guys instead of someone who by all accounts is a true petrolhead.

    • Lie2me Lie2me on Feb 11, 2014

      "The Uwe Ellinghaus hiring sounded a LOT of warning sirens" Yeah, "Skippy" doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the Cadillac image

  • JD321 JD321 on Feb 11, 2014

    The vapid Marketing Twits are having a tough time screwing with the minds of the little people like they use to be able to do before the internet.

  • Joebaldheadedgranny Joebaldheadedgranny on Feb 11, 2014

    If I still owned GM stock (my original position vaporized in 2008) I would be concerned about the lack of traction in full size pickups in spite of a near-complete redesign. I attended a product reveal in November 2013 and was stunned to learn that, while GM had completely replaced their engine lineup, their marketing team green-lighted engineering's plan to keep the identical 5.3L and 6.2L designations. Maybe I can't tell the sizzle from the steak, but why would you go to the trouble of adding direct injection, variable timing, and cylinder deactivation and throwing out all but 5 parts, and then keep the engine displacement the same? Uncanny arrogance, I don't know what else to call it.

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    • Joebaldheadedgranny Joebaldheadedgranny on Feb 12, 2014

      @Lie2me Sorry for the "traction" wisecrack! I meant it in a sales context. If I were to buy a pickup I'd probably buy the new Chevy- they engineer for quality and, having worked for GM a few years, found them to be people of really high integrity. In terms of approach, however, I never understood them, and they never understood me. It's hard when engineers make all the decisions, especially about customer-facing issues. From my chair, failing to brand their new engines (as well placed as they are now to handle CAFE hurdles vis-a-vis other OEMs) was a massive miss they probably never even considered.