GM Appoints New Marketing Officer After Going Seven Years Without

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gm appoints new marketing officer after going seven years without

General Motors is moving Cadillac marketing chief Deborah Wahl up the food chain by appointing her as its global chief marketing officer — a position which has sat unfilled since 2012.

The previous CMO, Joel Ewanick, was removed by former CEO Dan Akerson over a costly Chevrolet-Manchester United sponsorship deal blew up in his face. Officially, General Motors said Ewanick “failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee” and left the position vacant, distributing its duties among other other employees — primarily Chevrolet’s now-retired CMO Tim Mahoney.

Wahl, 56, joined Cadillac in 2018, helping the brand further distance itself from the botched “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign. However, we’re not yet certain its freshened marketing materials are truly a cut from a different cloth. Several of the new spots carry over the same vague messaging, just with a bit more focus on product. Then again, perhaps the highbrow content is simply going over our heads.

“After some careful thought and consideration, we felt it was best to take our name back and be unapologetically Cadillac again,” Wahl said earlier this year. “In our newest brand campaign, ‘Rise,’ we have decided to allow the Cadillac name and our crest speak for themselves and continue to tell the story of our reinvention.”

According to Automotive News, CEO Mary Barra announced Wahl’s corporate ascension in an internal memo posted on Thursday. “By aligning marketing across GM under Deborah’s leadership, we will build stronger brands while ensuring more effective, efficient and agile customer engagement,” Barra said. The document also included a handful of other high-level staffing changes.

From Automotive News:

The executive changes also included moving Travis Hester, 47, president of GM Canada, into a newly created position: global vice president of customer experience. Hester will be responsible for maximizing customer engagement across the company, Barra said in the memo, reporting to both [Barry] Engle and GM President Mark Reuss, according to a GM Canada statement.

Scott Bell, vice president of sales, service and marketing for GM Canada, will replace Hester as president of GM Canada. Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet truck marketing since March 2014, will replace Bell.

Before moving to Cadillac, Wahl worked in the marketing departments of Lincoln-Mercury, Lexus, and Toyota. She also spent a year as Chrysler’s CMO before putting in some time as McDonalds’ marketing chief. She’ll report directly to Americas head Barry Engle. Meanwhile, marketing leadership at Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, OnStar, and GM Financial will all report to Wahl. Melissa Grady, director of Cadillac media and performance marketing since September, will become Cadillac’s new CMO.

[Image: General Motors]

Join the conversation
2 of 55 comments
  • BklynPete BklynPete on Sep 06, 2019

    I wish Deborah Wahl all the best as General Motors' first real CMO since 2012. I will have to read up on her accomplishments inside and outside the auto industry, whatever they might be. GM is the U.S. Senate of big companies. It's where Dreams Go To Die. Its circumstances even swallowed up Bob Lutz, though he wasn't at the peak of his talent. If Wahl has a good BS detector and isn't afraid to use it, that will be a huge asset to GM dealers, consumers and shareholders — for however long GM Management lets her last! All I can say is give her a clean slate for 6-12 months. Whatever happened at Mickey D's or other car companies really doesn't matter if she can rise to the opportunity.

  • DweezilSFV DweezilSFV on Sep 08, 2019

    Could this mean the death of the "Not Your Father's Oldsmobile" type Buick ads ? No more "Real People" ? Or something more sinister since "Rise" was what the Manson girls wrote in blood on the wall of one of the victim's homes? Helter Skelter, GM.

  • Wjtinfwb How does the ICE mid-engine C8 platform work for... anything else? A sedan? SUV? With a mid engine configuration? A mid-engine SUV will have to be Suburban sized to offer the utility of a CRV. GM should dust off the Omega platform designed for the Cadillac CT6 for an SUV/Sedan offering with exceptional handling, Rear or AWD capability and acceptable space utilization. They also need to focus on interior fit & finish, trim choices and high quality final engineering and assembly. What GM doesn't need is another half-baked product with a storied and prestigious badge on the decklid and a premium price on the Monroney. No more Cimarron's, Allante's or X-cars needed to tarnish the reputation of Corvette.
  • InCogKneeToe BUILD It and they will come.By Build It, I mean a Vehicle that the Customer Wants and it works for them. It could be called Chevette for all that that matters. The Mach E's success isn't because it totes the Mustang on it.Just build what people want, the next Caravan/Taurus/Beetle/Maverick (truck).
  • YellowDuck do you make a mid-engine crossover? Or even a 4-door coupe? Me not get.
  • 28-Cars-Later Thanks Corey. The head stud job on NOrthSTAR-T was $3K *years ago* as it involves an engine pull so rear wheel arch rust in and of itself isn't a show stopper. I'll be sure to check out the trunk as it may start to add up on deferred maintenance. Supposedly this was garaged so the underneath the rockers etc. should be decent but if those are shot its not gonna work.
  • Mark 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, G4NG engine with connecting rod bearing issues. Engine needs to be replaced, but Hyundai is denying warranty claim. I have all maintenance records from mile zero. It has been in Hyundai Service department 5 time in 4 months. They added the knock sensor and software update to let you know the engine is about to blow up. They kicked the can down the road doing patch work until the car was past the 120k extended extended warranty. I have that documentation too. So how can I join the class action law suit or find a Lawyer that handles these types of issues?