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Q&A: GM Global Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick

$3 bil ad deal part of bigger changes underway throughout GM.

by on Jan.24, 2012

GM Global Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick.

In a move of the significance seldom seen in the advertising world, General Motors has named Carat, part of the giant Aegis group, its global media and planning agency – a deal worth $3 billion annually, and perhaps significantly more in the coming years.  The move comes after a shoot-out among four major agencies, including Publicis Group’s Starcom, which had been handling media duties in North America, where two-thirds of GM’s advertising budget was traditionally tallied.

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The global realignment is just the latest in a series of steps that have been taken since former Hyundai Motor America marketing chief Joel Ewanick relocated to Detroit nearly two years ago. But the 51-year-old Ewanick, in an exclusive interview with TheDetroitBureau.com, says it’s not about to be the last big change.  Among other things, he confirms the results of a review of Chevrolet’s creative account will be announced in the coming weeks, with other big moves to follow.

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Ewanick also stressed that the marketing and media changes are just part of a broader shake-up within General Motors designed to create a leaner, more nimble manufacturer that has clearly defined its brands and is now rolling out the appropriate products to keep its momentum going.  Considering GM last year regained its perch as the world’s largest automaker, that’s no easy challenge.

Here’s what Ewanick had to say about the latest developments and what they mean for GM longer-term:

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Marty’s Marketing Minutia

Hyundai Under the Microscope

by on Oct.22, 2010

Hyundai's new Turbo Face ad shows the maker hasn't lost the magic - despite losing two key marketing execs.

The Brit’s historical axiom to announce the demise of the ruling monarch is, “The King is dead. Long live the King.”  After General Motors double-dip executive raid of the marketing department of Hyundai America the operative phrase could be, “The CMO is gone. Long live the CMO. But he’s gone too!”

It was a true WTF moment. Buzz in the biz was based on several questions: What was last year’s marketing company of the year going to do? What could they do? Could they continue trend setting creative and blockbusting media buys?  But this was just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to the unexpected departure of the two key execs this last year, Hyundai — in a startling move, without a review — replaced, Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein and Partners with a new agency, Innocean Worldwide Americas. This caused some controversy because Innocean was not just a new agency, it is a house agency owned by the brand’s parent, Hyundai Motor Group of Seoul, Korea. And house agencies are a creative anathema to many in the industry.

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Is the king really dead?

Based on a preview of new Sonata turbo campaign last week, Hyundai has not skipped a beat and continues its bold and distinctive advertising.  When I asked John Krafcik, president and CEO of Hyundai about the new campaign, the first since the departures, he responded, “Our agency, Innocean Worldwide Americas, is and has been the source of our innovative marketing programs and marketing communications since they became agency of record last year. Their passion for the brand is extraordinary.”

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