General Motors taps Pepsi exec for key position

By Published on .

Facing declining market share and a worrisome economic climate, General Motors Corp. is hoping the force behind the "Joy of Cola" can spread some cheer around Detroit.

Christopher "CJ" Fraleigh joins the country's No. 1 advertiser today as executive director of corporate advertising and marketing, from VP marketing-colas at PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola North America. The 11-year soft drink veteran will oversee cross-brand deals, such as GM's $1 billion, 12-year sponsorship and broadcast deal with the U.S. Olympic Team and NBC. He will be responsible for corporate marketing and advertising as well as the GM Card.

Mr. Fraleigh replaces Phil Guarascio, the former VP-general manager corporate advertising and marketing, who cut a wide swath through the industry before leaving GM in May.

Mr. Fraleigh, by contrast, has held a much lower profile. He will report to John Middlebrook, VP-general manager of vehicle brand advertising and corporate advertising.

Reporting to Mr. Fraleigh are Michael Browner, executive director of media and marketing operations, and Judy Hu, executive director of advertising operations. They had reported to Mr. Middlebrook.

Pepsi has not announced Mr. Fraleigh's replacement.

Mr. Fraleigh is stepping from the Pepsi Challenge to a far more serious challenge. GM spent $1.37 billion in the first half of 2000 and $2.9 billion in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting; Pepsi spent only $188 million in the first half of 2000 and $207 million in 1999 for all its soft-drink brands, including those beverages for which Mr. Fraleigh was not reponsible.

Despite the carmaker's massive budget, GM continues to lose domestic market share. Last year, the auto giant's share slipped to 28.3% from 29.4%, according to Automotive News. In 1994, GM's market share was 33.2.%

At Pepsi, Mr. Fraleigh worked with BBDO Worldwide, New York, the agency that recently won the consolidated $2.4 billion account of rival DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group.

Quick rise up ladder

Now, he'll work with GM shops Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, handling soon-to-be-phased-out Oldsmobile; Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., for Chevrolet; D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., for Cadillac and Pontiac; Lowe Lintas & Partners, New York, for the GMC division; McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich., for Buick and corporate; and Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco, for Saturn.

Although he wasn't well known outside Pepsi, inside the company Mr. Fraleigh quickly climbed the corporate ladder. Since joining Pepsi in 1989, the year he got his MBA from Columbia University, he moved from assistant marketing manager to senior marketing manager and then senior director.

Mr. Fraleigh could not be reached by press time, but those close to the 37-year-old father of three said he is smart enough to share credit and surround himself with equally good people.

After an August realignment that separated soft drinks into two divisions--carbonated and non-carbonated--Mr. Fraleigh began reporting to Dave Berwick, senior VP-carbonated soft drinks, instead of Dawn Hudson, VP-strategy and marketing, to whom Mr. Berwick reports. While observers said this was not a slight, they believe it could have sent a worrisome message to Mr. Fraleigh.

"Things are on the fast track for CJ," said a longtime associate, who called the GM position too good to ignore. "There are only so many slots available for bright young people, of whom Pepsi has many."

In this article:
Most Popular