NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Joel Ewanick, one of the most high-profile marketers at red-hot Hyundai, is jumping ship to Nissan North America, where he joins as VP-marketing, Nissan Division, effective March 22. He succeeds Christian Meunier, appointed in February to president, Nissan Brazil.
Mr. Ewanick, former VP-marketing at Ad Age's 2009 Marketer of the Year, was also No. 14 on Ad Age's 2009 Power Players list. At Nissan, he will oversee all marketing activities for Nissan brand products in the U.S., including marketing communications, pricing and product management.
While at Hyundai, he developed the hugely successful Assurance Program, which reportedly doubled the percentage of U.S. customers willing to consider buying a Hyundai. Coming at a time when many car makers were pulling back on advertising and brand-building, Mr. Ewanick put rivals on notice that the automaker planned to be very aggressive, and its first-of-its-kind assurance program allowed consumers to return their cars if they lost their jobs.
It wasn't the first time that Mr. Ewanick's Hyundai zigged while others zagged. Rather than slash vehicle prices and advertise hefty incentives, last July the marketer introduced the Assurance Gas Lock program that guaranteed buyers the locked-in gas price of $1.49 a gallon for a year.
Under his leadership, the automaker's U.S. market share jumped to 4.4% in the first nine months of 2009 from 3.1% in the same year-ago period. And in September, while the industry suffered a 22% sales drop in a post-Clunkers hangover, Hyundai increased its new-vehicle tally by 27% to 31,511 units. Measured-media spending for the first half of 2009 dropped 2.7% to $238 million. Full-year 2008 measured spending was $571 million.
Before joining Hyundai, Mr. Ewanick had been director-brand planning since 2004 at Hyundai's national creative agency, Richards Group, Dallas.
He also held executive positions at the Hinckley Co.'s Monitor Clipper in Boston; Palmer Johnson in Wisconsin; and Porsche Cars North America in Atlanta.