I’ve never met Joel Ewanick, so my thoughts here entail the years I’ve spent working with and interacting with, dozens of Agency & OEM clients, Tier II groups and dealers around the US. These comments arrive here in that light.
Obviously, both the naming of Joel Ewanick to lead Marketing at General Motors, and his lightning-rod, turn-on-a-dime appointment of icon SF agency Goody Silverstein & Partners [replacing Publicis Worldwide], have ignited huge debates & extensive commentary. Moving Cadillac swiftly from BBH [Bartle Bogle Hegarty] to Fallon, both of which were within Publicis, only adds to the drama. That last leaves Chrysler in the lurch losing Fallon, and, oh yeah, Campbell-Ewald was felled in this mix, too.
You can argue all of this until forever, but some thoughts on several sides of this issue have not escaped me:
Rarely in the US [that I can think of, anyway] has a gigantic client with a huge budget such as GM moved so quickly to change Leadership/Agency/Message, as was done here.
That this was done at all…signals that Ed Whitacre plays, and plays for keeps.
So, apparently, does Mr Ewanick. It is not likely he’ll survive, or last longer than several years at GM. Think he can then, what…go back to Nissan? Right. So, this was a brutally cold, hard decision on his part. Give him credit. He does play for keeps; where can he go after this? His only shot at another OEM is if he absolutely kills it at GM. No one will touch him otherwise, after ditching Nissan. No way, unless he just kills it.
To summarize on that point then: ‘Joel & Ed’ are made for each other with that kind of temperament. Until of course…they’re not. Who loses then? Joel, would be my bet. But that’s at GM. And although he may not agree with the association here, we recall Julie Roehm, so who knows what future comes after a very visible, high-profile gig in Autos marketing?
The influence of the government aid/buyouts here is evident. With them and Wall Street coming into the mix at GM & Chrysler, several more layers of Detroit’s insular facade vanished. So agency reviews, re-assignments, revisions like this are going to continue.
Meanwhile, as GM/Cadillac/Mazda/Chrysler most recently, and VW/Mitsubishi/BMW months before them all shifted Agency teams, what is also noteworthy…is who has not budged: Honda, Nissan/Infiniti, Hyundai/Kia, Ford..
Nor has Toyota+Lexus. In fact, as MoM[S] has written here previously, between the cultural and very challenging PR issues with Toyota’s recent vehicle difficulties, I am still amazed that Saatchi has kept its place, if only for the sake of ‘action’ by their client. But they have done exceedingly well in a totally impossible situation, so kudos to them. And to their client for their loyalty, which is well-deserved in my view.
True, some of what I’ve written may echo others out there. In fact, in my view, some of the best writing on all of this has come more from the Agency pub’s, than even AutoNews [though they’ve also done good work here.] Keeping track of the latest over this past week comes to us in two great articles: ‘Cadillac, Chrysler, Mazda Accounts Spin Out at Once‘, from AdAge, and ‘Chrysler Reaches Out‘, in AdWeek.