GM dismisses global marketing boss Ewanick
DETROIT -- General Motors has dismissed global marketing chief Joel Ewanick two years after hiring him.
Ewanick was removed for failing to adequately appraise the financial details of a recent sponsorship deal with Manchester United, a popular U.K. soccer team, according to The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, who cited people familiar with the matter.
A source with knowledge of the situation said that talks had been ongoing for days about the handling of Ewanick's departure.
"He failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee," GM spokesman Greg Martin said Sunday, without elaborating.
GM said Alan Batey, GM's vice president of U.S. sales and service, has been appointed interim global chief marketing officer. In May, Batey was promoted from vice president of Chevrolet sales and service to his current role.
GM hired Ewanick, 52, as U.S. marketing chief in May of 2010. By the end of that year, he was put in charge of global marketing, then a new position.
Ewanick joined GM from Nissan, where he worked briefly. He had previously been part of a team of Hyundai Motor America executives credited with boosting sales and polishing the Korean automaker's U.S. image.
"It has been a privilege and honor to work with the GM Team and to be a small part of Detroit's turnaround," Ewanick said Sunday in a Twitter post. "I wish everyone at GM all the best."
Ewanick did not reply to an e-mail from Automotive News seeking comment.
GM's global sales rose 2.9 percent to 4.67 million units in the first half of the year, according to Bloomberg News. Rival Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 34 percent gain to 4.97 million following last year's earthquake, putting the Japanese automaker on track to reclaim the global sales title for the year.
GM has lost U.S. share this year, posting a 4 percent sales gain through six months in a market that's up 15 percent. July results will be announced on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Causing a stir
Ewanick recently led a massive consolidation of the external marketing and advertising agencies that work with GM. Last spring, he moved the account for Chevrolet's creative work from dozens of agencies globally to just one firm, Commonwealth of Detroit.
He also put all of GM's media buying duties under London-based Aegis' Carat unit, ending its work with dozens of smaller agencies. Combined, those moves are expected to save GM $2 billion over five years, the company has said.
In May, Ewanick caused a stir after expressing skepticism about the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook and confirming that GM was pulling its direct advertising from the site -- just days before the social media company's initial public offering.
In the same interview, with The Wall Street Journal, he confirmed that GM would not advertise during next year's Super Bowl. Both disclosures caught GM officials off guard and sent them scrambling to clarify the company's position. Ewanick later expressed regret for how the news came out.
The spokesman said Ewanick's dismissal was not related to the incidents.
Ewanick also has presided over the controversial "Chevy Runs Deep" tagline, which critics have said falls short of providing an identity or narrative for GM's mainstay brand.
Ewanick caused a stir after expressing skepticism about the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook.
The slogan, launched in the fall of 2010, has been under review since spring, when GM awarded the Chevy account to Commonwealth. Ewanick previously had said that he expected a decision on its fate sometime this summer.
Ewanick's departure spotlights the volatility within GM's executive ranks under Dan Akerson, who became GM's CEO a few months after Ewanick joined.
Since then, Akerson has installed a new product development chief and replaced the head of GM's troubled European operations twice.
Last year, former CFO Chris Liddell, a high-profile recruit from Microsoft Corp., left the company and was replaced by current CFO Dan Amman. GM also has replaced its heads of manufacturing and engineering and twice appointed new chiefs of the OnStar unit during Akerson's two-year tenure.
In addition, designer Dave Lyon left the company on Thursday. He had been scheduled to become design chief for GM's struggling Opel unit on Wednesday.