GM's Ewanick Grades Goodby: 'C and B Work'

Chevy Advertising Needs More Consistency

By Published on . 11

General Motors' global marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, wants more consistency from the advertising agency he tapped last year to head GM's biggest account: Chevrolet.

Mr. Ewanick said he has "seen grade-A work" from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the San Francisco agency that is the creative force behind the "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign that began last fall.

Joel Ewanick
Joel Ewanick

"The problem is , it hasn't been consistent," Mr. Ewanick told Ad Age sibling publication Automotive News last week. "We need to find our stride where it's always at that level."

Within days of his arrival in May 2010, Mr. Ewanick awarded the Chevrolet contract to Goodby. The contract is worth $600 million, according to Advertising Age. Goodby was Mr. Ewanick's agency of choice when he led marketing for Hyundai Motor America and Porsche Cars North America before that .

He pulled the work from Publicis Groupe , which weeks earlier had supplanted Campbell-Ewald, the Detroit agency that had a 91-year run as Chevy's lead agency, hatching such iconic campaigns as "Like a Rock" and "American Revolution."

Asked to grade Goodby nearly one year into the "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign, Mr. Ewanick said: "I think they're a great agency. I'm really happy with them in general." But, he said, "To get an A, you have to be consistent. That's more of C and B work when you can't find the consistency."

Mr. Ewanick said he has "told them the same thing" in recent discussions with the agency, which has moved about 125 employees to an office in Detroit to handle the account. He did not single out Goodby work that he thinks reflects inconsistency.

A Goodby spokeswoman said Friday that the agency's executives were unavailable to comment.

Despite Mr. Ewanick's mixed assessment, he said he is generally pleased with the "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign, though he thinks it can and will get better.

He ticked off a number of Goodby-made commercials that he loves.

He was particularly proud of one spot dubbed "Spaceship Earth," which used shots of windmills and lush forest landscapes to announce Chevrolet's investments in renewable energy that eventually will reduce carbon emissions equivalent to "planting a forest the size of Yellowstone."

He cited a Chevrolet Volt spot titled "Socket," which features a close-up of a home electrical socket that resembles a distressed face. "Breathe socket," the voiceover said. "You can do this. Any socket can." Mr. Ewanick said its simplicity helps dispel confusion about the Volt's plug-in technology.

And "probably the epitome" of the promise of "Chevy Runs Deep," Mr. Ewanick said, was the post-Super Bowl tie-in with the musical comedy TV show "Glee." The two-minute spot included the Volt, Camaro convertible and Cruze compact and featured the "Glee" cast singing "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet," the famous Dinah Shore jingle from the1950s and '60s.

"It was taking what was old, making it new again, and making it relevant for a whole new set of people," Mr. Ewanick said. "It worked marvelously."

He said he expects to see more contemporary versions of iconic Chevy campaigns.

Modern iterations of Americana-heavy "Like a Rock" from the 1990s and the "American Revolution" campaign of the past decade "could be used at any time," he said.

"Those are reference points for when people had a really fond memory for Chevrolet," Mr. Ewanick said. "No reason for us not to remind them and borrow it."

~ ~ ~
Mike Colias is a reporter for Automotive News.

In this article:

Comments (11)