By on February 11, 2014
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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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17 Comments on “Dealers Uneasy About Turnover At GM’s Sales & Marketing Team...”

  • avatar

    “GM still suffers from outmoded perceptions of its brands”

    GM has always had this problem. Sometimes I think they don’t know what they’re selling or who they’re selling it to. Which explains a lot of they’re failures in the past. They’re not the only one, Toyota is getting more disconnected all the time. What kind of vacuum are they operating in to develop and bring to market something like the Crosscabriolet?

  • avatar

    they have no one who knows how to sell cars so they shift and realign to create the illusion that there is a chance for real leadership. new org charts, new ad agencies, same old gimmicks that won’t ever work. even worse, they refuse to listen to someone who has the knowledge and experience. I would get them 3-5 points of share inside 6 months and reduce the money spent. they’ll never consider programs from a “car salesman” and share will continue to drop.

    promises of new product increasing sales has again proven worthless, yet they continue doing the same things…matrix incentives, stair step rebates, forced facility upgrades, useless advertising, and more published comments from dealers who go along with their failed ways because they are serving on councils that accomplish nothing.

  • avatar

    My usually unreliable crystal ball tells me it’ll get a hell of a lot worse. With recent discussions here about long term financing being back in style, and so many people under/unemployed and with factories pumping out vehicles to the max, this had to happen. Same story every time. It takes some seriously easy terms to allow a minimum wage 20 hour per week worker at Family Dollar to buy even a decent used car.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      While it may seem strange, and downright annoying (tbh), they successfully brought engines (albeit still small) with lots of power and commendable fuel economy in a much better setup than ford.
      6.2l GM = 3.5l ecoboost ~~~ in mpg, pretty nice.

      Might of also already printed the manuals… *well the manuals say the availible engines are 5.3, 6.2, etc, might as well make these the same displacement*

      Plus there’s a LOT of value in those displacement denotations, to change the displacement would have a lot of people feel the engines need to be tested, ignoring the fact that they are in fact still all new, regardless the displacement.

    • 0 avatar

      You would do those things to increase gas mileage and performance which isn’t directly proportional to displacement and neither have much to do with traction, I guess I don’t really understand your point

      • 0 avatar

        I believe he’s making one of two points

        A) the engines are all new, the displacement needs to be changed to let people know that thy are all new. For the sake of change

        Or B) he’s concerned the engines were built specifically to fit in the window of the outgoing displacement amounts, possibly not allowing a better/more efficient setup to come about, simply out of sake of keeping the denotations.

        Also I’m not sure if it was tongue in cheek reference by you(lie2me), but his use of the word traction is describing the lackluster sales of the new GM trucks.

        • 0 avatar

          Ok, that I could see, not sure why it’s important, but what do those things have to do with traction?

          • 0 avatar

            See last paragraph.

          • 0 avatar

            Really? Sure sounds more mechanical then strategic

          • 0 avatar

            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.

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