GM’s Ewanick Calling Agencies To Task

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Joel Ewanick was recruited as General Motors from Hyundai with expectations he would become a game-changer last year, positioning his new employer for long-term global success for its remaining brands. But the GM CMO doesn’t think some of the advertising agencies that are supposed to help him are up to game speed yet. And he’s getting impatient.

In recent days, trade press has been rife with reports of Ewanick’s dissatisfaction with both Goody Silverstein on Chevrolet and Fallon on behalf of Cadillac. Ewanick told Automotive News and Adweek that Goodby “hasn’t been consistent” since its much-heralded takeover of the Chevy account after Ewanick arrived at GM last fall, and that Fallon “is still trying to find a way to the work” that will succeed for Cadillac.

No wonder Ewanick is a little edgy these days about the two brands. Chevrolet has gotten stronger since his arrival, but a huge reason for that is one single new product: the Chevrolet Cruze small car, whose appeal seems based on fuel efficiency and strong vehicle features rather than buzz-worthy advertising. Ewanick’s concerns echo doubts outsiders expressed last year when he debuted the brand’s new “Chevy Runs Deep” positioning. It wasn’t clear exactly what that message would do for the brand.[more]

Meanwhile, Cadillac has been losing shine in the luxury-car war to front-rank competitors such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz — and even to sibling brand Buick, which has been sizzling. Execution of some of the agency’s work for Caddy’s current “Red Blooded Luxury” campaign has been questioned.

And things aren’t going to get any easier for Chevrolet and Cadillac, which is probably why Ewanick is sounding his alarm right about now. With their supply chains rebuilt, major Japanese small-car brands are going to come hunting for their share of the U.S. small-car market this fall, putting Chevy squarely in their cross-hairs. Likewise, Lexus, the long-running leader in U.S. luxury sales, will be attempting to regain its pole position, at the expense of Cadillac and every other brand in its way.

For their part, agency executives have defended their work. But being pros at the messaging business, they’re definitely getting the message from Ewanick.

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