The person who has been running General Motors’ $4.5 billion global ad budget has been ousted from the company.
Joel Ewanick, GM’s global chief marketing officer, "failed to meet expectations the company has for its employees," a GM spokesperson said, and Ewanick elected to resign, reports The Wall Street Journal. The piece adds: "GM said Mr. Ewanick, 52 years old, will leave the company and be succeeded on an interim basis by U.S. sales and service chief Alan Batey, 49."
The WSJ story notes: "GM told Mr. Ewanick that he was being removed for failing to properly vet the financial details of a European soccer-sponsorship deal that he struck recently, according to people familiar with the matter." Auto News says the deal involved the popular U.K. soccer team Manchester United.
The WSJ article notes that Ewanick, who previously worked at Hyundai and Nissan, "also became a polarizing force both within GM and on Madison Avenue."
However, The WSJ adds: "As recently as two weeks ago, "[GM CEO Dan] Akerson said he was pleased with Mr. Ewanick’s work. In an interview earlier this month to discuss Mr. Ewanick’s role at GM, Mr. Akerson described him as ‘fundamental’ to the company and said he was doing ‘a good job. … He’s full of energy and vim and vigor and comes across as a glass breaker. But that is too simplistic. He is willing to challenge the status quo of the corporation and he has done a good job."
The WSJ continues: "Mr. Ewanick used a commercial for this year’s Super Bowl to take a shot at rival Ford Motor Co. The story-board version of the Chevrolet Silverado ad showed the pickup truck emerging unscathed from an apocalyptic landscape.
"The driver emerges and asks, ‘Where’s Dave?’ A friend replies, "Dave didn’t drive the longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road.’
"Mr. Ewanick studied the board and threw in a twist: "Let’s say, ‘He drove a Ford.’
"The ad agency fretted the joke would come across as mean-spirited, but in the end added the line with some extra humor. Ford didn’t get the joke. Days before the ad was to air, Ford lawyers sent GM a cease-and-desist letter. Instead of complying, Mr. Ewanick mocked Ford’s complaint on Twitter — a development that many media outlets picked up."
Here’s the commercial: