Former Hyundai and General Motors marketing executive Joel Ewanick’s newest endeavour — a hydrogen fuel filling station network called FirstElement Fuel Inc. — has won a $27.6 million grant from the California Energy Commission, allowing Ewanick to move forward with the startup.
Joel Ewanick is not on a good trajectory. The former rock star marketing chief of Hyundai, and later defenestrated global marketing chief of GM, hired on as “Chief Commercial Officer” at Fisker. Not even that. He will be interim Chief Commercial Officer until Fisker has found a suitable replacement for allegedly retiring Richard Beattie. Beattie had signed on last December.
Last week, Jalopnik ran a story bemoaning the loss of Joel Ewanick, complete with some appropriately DeLorean-esque winks towards possible conspiracy and a note that Mr. Ewanick just busted out a $1.4 million mortgage for a home in Detroit. This doesn’t seem like a good deal; surely $1.4 mil should get you, oh, I don’t know, 1,400 homes in Detroit.
What was so great about the guy who apparently green-lit “Chevy Runs Deep”? Perhaps a look into what GM once considered to be good marketing copy will offer some insight.
Rather than running commercials during the Super Bowl, General Motors is looking to try something more subversive – product placement within other brand’s TV spots during the big game.
Automotive News reports that GM marketing man Joel Ewanick was investigating the possibility of paying other advertisers to insert GM vehicles into their ads. But various contractual elements related to Super Bowl advertising may kill the idea in its nascent stages.
In a nod to the fact that growth lies elsewhere on the globe, GM created a new position rarely seen elsewhere: Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Job description: Head and direct global marketing. Job filled by: Joel Ewanick.
The marketing maven joined GM in May, after a very short (and apparently not too happy) stint at Nissan. Ewanick became famous for his marketing work for Hyundai and for implementing gutsy marketing strategies. Ewanick is credited for a lot of Hyundai’s U.S. success.
I had the pleasure of spending part of a dinner at last week’s Volt press launch chatting with GM’s marketing honcho Joel Ewanick, better known for his work as “marketer of the year” at Hyundai. Ewanick’s a confident, engaging guy, and when the “Don’t Call It Chevy” mini-embroglio came up over desert, his eyes took on a mischievous twinkle. As other GM communications and PR staff recounted their stories of the 24-hour madness that followed the release of a memo which indicated that the term “Chevy” was no longer a welcome marketing feature, it became clear that neither Ewanick nor any of his staff had any regrets about accidentally launching a full-blown public debate over the value of the term Chevy. The very debate, it seems, reconnected the brand that had tried everything marketing-wise with its hidden core: consumers care enough about Chevrolet to have a popular and affectionate nickname for it. And what started as an unnecessary PR blunder seems to have given birth to Chevrolet’s newest marketing tagline: Chevy Runs Deep. Or, as Chevy’s ad man Jeff Goodby puts itIt’s such a deep, wide, connected brand in America. All things being equal, Americans want to buy Chevys. And we have to put them in that position
In recent interviews with Automotive News [sub] and AutoObserver, GM’s recently-hired marketing boss Joel Ewanick dished out some of the insights that have earned him the reputation for being an ace image guy. He tells AN [sub] that
Consumers don’t buy General Motors. General Motors sells nothing
Oh, really? Because GM decided to remove the GM Mark of Excellence from its vehicles right around the time it emerged from bankruptcy, the better part of a year before Ewanick was brought on board. Since the first Government Motors joke emerged on the internet, GM has sought to distance itself from its corporate umbrella’s brand… and this is the insight Ewanick is bringing to the organization? Hell, Automotive News [sub] suggested that “Stop mentioning General Motors” when he was hired in June of this year. Which leaves Ewanick only one choice: don’t talk about General Motors more than anyone might imagine.
Nearly a month after ditching Chevy’s longtime ad agency Campbell-Ewald in favor of Publicis, GM management is said to be eying another change in strategy for its most important brand, as new Marketing boss Joel Ewanick begins making his presence felt. Sources tell AdAge that Ewanick is considering moving creative responsibilities for the $600m Chevy account from Publicis to Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, although GM has not yet confirmed any such move. Anonymous GM execs tell AdAge:
They told him he could have virtual carte blanche in decision-making, and he’s already exercising his power to do so. He’s surrounding himself with people he feels most comfortable with and trusts… He didn’t pick Publicis, he inherited it.
Focusing on Chevy, and not being afraid to shake things up are two very encouraging signs from Ewanick. Having inherited former Marketing boss Susan Docherty’s gestating campaign centered around the line “Excellence for Everyone” and some intensely unmemorable Publicis ads, Ewanick clearly needs to bring the thunder, and according to AdAge, all of GM’s agencies are in a tizzy over the shake-up.
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.
Since GM Chairman/CEO Ed Whitacre began firing holdover executives, starting with former CEO Fritz Henderson, TTAC has argued that VP for Marketing Susan Docherty is a prime example of a GM lifer who “ owes her career to GM’s timid and inept culture.” Having already lost the Sales VP position to GM’s rising star Mark Reuss, “leaving Docherty time to focus on the marketing side and polish up her resumé,” we figured she was on her way out. And sure enough, several embarrassments later, the announcement came today. What we didn’t expect: that former Hyundai “Marketer of the year” Joel Ewanick would replace her.
Joel Ewanick is a name you’re probably not familiar with. I wouldn’t blame you, he works in Marketing, which is a pretty dull affair. However, you may be familiar with his work. He helped bring Hyundai to the mainstream with clever and well executed marketing plans. The Hyundai Assurance Plan (lose your job, return your car) was his idea. Not to mention during 2009, when the car industry was failing, his marketing plans helped Hyundai increase market share and even turn a good profit. Advertising during the Superbowl? His idea. Advertising at the Academy Awards? His idea again. Hyundai’s market share grew from 3 percent to 4.4 percent as of February (according to data from Autodata). To cap it all, he was named Marketer of the Year 2009 (the year of carmageddon) by Advertsing Age. So why am I writing about him? Well, he’s leaving Hyundai.
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