General Motors’ chief marketing officer resigns as carmaker revamps ad approach


DETROIT — General Motors Co. said that its global chief marketing officer, Joel Ewanick, has resigned from the Detroit automaker. The announcement comes following several major changes to the company’s advertising approach and just ahead of its second-quarter earnings report on Thursday.

GM said Sunday that Ewanick had elected to resign and his decision is effective immediately. The 52-year-old executive joined the company in 2010 to oversee marketing for the company’s North American unit and was promoted within months to head its global marketing business.

Ewanick is an auto industry veteran, having worked for Nissan North America and Hyundai Motor America. He is considered the mastermind behind Hyundai’s offer to take back cars if buyers lost their jobs, a marketing effort which helped bring in buyers who may have otherwise sat on the sidelines due to the recession.

GM hired Ewanick with the hopes he would find something similarly innovative to shake up its marketing and improve sales.

However, his time at GM has been less inspired by some measures. Ewanick was at the helm for the launch of the “Chevy Runs Deep” campaign, which failed to resonate with consumers. He also was at the head of marketing as it made several surprising changes to its advertising approach.

The company announced this spring that it would pull US$10 million in ads from Facebook, saying they weren’t effective. It also decided not advertise at the Super Bowl due to price hikes demanded for the air time. The Super Bowl traditionally is advertising’s biggest spectacle, with automakers buying up a big chunk of air time.

This is not the only executive change as GM tries to regain its footing. The company replaced its European CEO earlier this month amid a difficult effort to turn around its money-losing Opel and Vauxhall businesses there.

GM is still 26 percent owned by the U.S. government, which received stock in exchange for a controversial US$49.5 billion bailout that got the company through bankruptcy protection. The company is far leaner and free of massive debt now, but is still in recovery mode.

The company reported a US$1 billion net profit in the first quarter and is expected to report a profit again in its second-quarter financial results this week.