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GM CMO Ewanick Pledges Flexibility in Global Branding

Posted by Dale Buss on December 22, 2010 12:00 PM

Just because he’s been named the first global chief marketing officer of General Motors — with authority unprecedented for a marketing honcho inside one of the world’s most venerable automakers — it doesn’t mean that Joel Ewanick wants to turn all draconian on GM branding subordinates around the world.

“I’m going to encourage markets to take their best approach of understanding the character of their brands and applying that understanding to their own markets,” the 50-year-old Ewanick told brandchannel in the wake of his ascension to global czar in addition to his duties as US marketing chief.

“We’re going to do that by understanding the customer in each market around the world better than they understand themselves. That’s hard. There aren’t a lot of companies doing it. It takes a lot of effort and work, and being very insightful and listening to customers so that we can get it, and have it resonate within our walls.”

Ewanick’s promotion — which comes with a seat on GM’s executive committee — represents a fast rise for someone who just joined the company a few months ago and has been overhauling its US branding and marketing since then. His first major new initiative, the “Chevy Runs Deep” marketing campaign, was only launched in October.

But Ewanick already has demonstrated “marketing acumen and creative leadership,” said CEO Dan Akerson in the company’s announcement about the move. And the promotion echoes Ford’s similar elevation of its U.S. CMO, Jim Farley, to global CMO a few months ago.

Ewanick explained that he grew to dislike global marketing dictates from the top of automotive companies where he previously served, Porsche and Hyundai, and promised not to take “a cookie-cutter approach” as he seeks to bolster GM brands worldwide.

So while Chevy may run “deep” in the United States, it may run wide beyond, particularly as 60% of the brand’s sales are outside its home market.

The world is Ewanick’s oyster now. Let’s see what he cracks open.

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