The announcement from General Motors explaining that Global Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick had resigned stated very simply that he “has elected to resign immediately”. The short statement went on to talk about Ewanick’s time with General Motors, having joined the team in May of 2010 as the head of North American marketing before taking over the global position in December of 2010. The GM announcement also reminds us that Ewanick was the vice president of marketing and the chief marketing officer for Nissan North American after spending time with Hyundai as the vice president of marketing. The GM statement closes by explaining that Ewanick’s position will be filled on an interim basis by Alan Batey, who currently serves as the vice president of US Sales and Service. What the statement doesn’t explain is why Joel Ewanick left GM after just over 2 years with the company.
Automotive News reported that Ewanick didn’t “decide to resign” so much as he was asked to resign by the company. AN states that Ewanick was removed because he failed to “adequately appraise the financial details of a recent sponsorship deal” with the well known soccer organization Manchester United in Great Brittan. AN also included a quote from GM spokesman Greg Martin who stated that Ewanick “failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee.” Based on the Automotive News report, it sounds like Ewanick resigned because he was asked to do so by the company after making a mistake that was evidently worthy of termination. Depending on the unknown details, GM may have wanted to can Ewanick but to allow the Global Marketing Chief to save face – the company asked him to resign rather than forcing the company to fire him.
Joel Ewanick’s time at the helm of GM’s global marketing machine was heavy scrutinized by many as he had a major hand in deciding to stop advertising on Facebook along with announcing that the company would not be sponsoring the next Super Bowl. We also should not forget that he was top of the command chain when the company introduced the questionable “Chevy Runs Deep” slogan – a campaign which many consumers still don’t understand.
While those moves had a negative effect on the company in the eyes of some consumers and industry critics, Ewanick made some moves that helped save the company a fair amount of money. During his time, he consolidated the marketing efforts of the various GM brands – reducing the number of agencies with which GM did business from dozens to just a single firm in Detroit. He also consolidated the media buying duties from a collection of agencies to just one which, when combined with the consolidation of the marketing effort, will save the American automaker some $2 billion annually.
The only real comment from Joel Ewanick came via the social network Twitter, where the former Global Marketing boss offered the following parting comments: "It has been a privilege and honor to work with the GM Team and to be a small part of Detroit's turnaround. I wish everyone at GM all the best."