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“Government Motors” on Fire

An excerpt from Jason Vine's tell-all, “What Did Jesus Drive”

by on Dec.01, 2014

Vines holds few punches as he looks at how automakers like Ford and GM have handled big crises.

Jason Vines has served as head of public relations for both Ford and Nissan, and as part of the senior PR team at Chrysler. He’s also functioned as an outside consultant to several other major automakers, including General Motors – giving Vines an unprecedented insider’s view of some of the biggest crises to shake the industry over the last two decades.

That includes the Ford/Firestone exploding tire disaster blamed for 271 deaths, as well as the ongoing General Motors ignition switch debacle. In this excerpt from Vines’ new book, “What Did Jesus Drive,” he offers a devastating, inside look at GM’s attempt to handle that scandal.

A Must Read!

Two weeks before GM’s first Congressional hearing regarding the ignition switch debacle, Selim (ed: former GM PR chief Selim Bingol) was on the phone. “Any advice,” he said. “You’ve been through this shit.”

Up to now, GM had been vigorously putting out CEO Mary Barra in every form of communications thinkable, apologizing profusely for the past transgressions of the “Old GM” and the humanity of the “New” post-bankruptcy GM, including a hideous video in which Barra looked like she was a prisoner at the Hanoi Hilton in ‘Nam.


Former GM PR Exec Hamp Taking Over Toyota Communications

Will oversee efforts to rebuild sales, share and image.

by on Jun.15, 2012

Will Hamp's PepsiCo tenure help Toyota produce better cupholders?

In the game of musical chairs among top automotive PR executives, an old and once-familiar name has landed a new seat.

Julie Hamp, once a senior public relations manager at General Motors – who unexpectedly left Detroit for the soft drink and snack industry – is making her return.  But this time Hamp will be back as the U.S. communications chief for Japanese giant Toyota.

She will replace the retiring Jim Wiseman who spent 23 years at Toyota.  Wiseman himself assumed the top communications post with the Asian maker less than two years earlier, right as Toyota suffered one of its most critical setbacks during a half century in the American marketplace.  The maker’s problems with quality and safety lapses were followed by last year’s product shortages resulting from the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The Last Word!

Hamp will start June 25, re-starting her automotive career even as Toyota begins rebuilding from its recent problems.  The maker also is in the midst of an extensive new product roll-out, including the next-generation Toyota Avalon – which is the first example of its new-found emphasis on more appealing design.


Sproule Returns to Nissan – And Adds Brand, Marketing Roles

Continued shake-up in senior PR management.

by on Sep.22, 2010

Simon Sproule returns to Japan as Global Marketing Communications chief for Nissan.

It’s back to Tokyo for Simon Sproule, the former chief of global public relations for Nissan Motor Co. who left the automaker, in early 2009, for a brief stint in the high-tech world.

The return of Sproule, who will also take on key marketing duties with his once-and-future employer, is the latest shake-up of Nissan’s global PR management.  Though he has yet to be given the formal title, Bentley’s former chief flak, David Reuter has become the de facto head of Nissan’s public relations operations in the States.

The 41-year-old Sproule has had a momentous career path, over the last decade.  Starting out as a low-level manager in the Ford organization, he rose to become the PR head of that maker’s Jaguar subsidiary – then jumped to Nissan.  His tenure at the Asian maker’s former U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles didn’t last long, however.

Global News!

Barely a year after joining Nissan, Sproule was recruited by hard-charging CEO Carlos Ghosn to take on global PR duties in Tokyo.