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GM Hires Joel Ewanick as Marketing Chief

Short-Lived Nissan CMO to Replace Susan Docherty at Automaker With $2.9 Billion U.S. Ad Budget

By Published on . 5

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Just six weeks after Joel Ewanick left Hyundai Motor America for Nissan, General Motors Co. snapped him up to lead its U.S. marketing efforts.

Joel Ewanick
Joel Ewanick
Mr. Ewanick, 49, will take over as VP-U.S. marketing on May 24, with responsibility for the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands and consumer consideration of GM vehicles in the U.S. He will report to North American President Mark Reuss and replace Susan Docherty.

The move vaults him to top marketing ranks at GM, the nation's No. 4 advertiser in 2008, according to Ad Age's DataCenter, with a $2.90 billion U.S. ad budget, compared to Nissan, which came in at No. 30, with $1.19 billion.

In what might be one of the shortest tenures in marketing history, Mr. Ewanick leapt to GM from Nissan, where in March he was appointed VP-chief marketing officer. At Nissan, he was responsible for marketing communications, pricing and product management. That post was vacated in early February when the automaker promoted Christian Meunier to become president of Nissan Brazil.

But the former agency exec truly made his mark at Hyundai Motor America, where under his leadership, the automaker was named Ad Age's 2009 Marketer of the Year; Mr. Ewanick was No. 14 on Ad Age's Power Players list.

Created Assurance program
During his three years at Hyundai, Mr. Ewanick developed the marketer's lauded Hyundai Assurance program, which guaranteed customers that they could return their purchases with no credit implications should they lose their job. He was also known for a major play in snatching up the Academy Award inventory in 2008 that was abandoned by GM -- now his employer.

"He has a real focus on being aggressive, spending some money and making a difference in sales, and he's good at seeing the world through the eyes of the people who buy the cars," said Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, at the time of Mr. Ewanick's appointment to Nissan. Mr. Goodby worked with him at Hyundai and Porsche North America.

GM said in a statement that a new assignment for Ms. Docherty, 47, will be announced soon. "Susan has been deeply involved in GM's sales and marketing initiatives for many years," Mr. Reuss said. "With her drive and focus, she has laid the groundwork for solid plans and rejuvenated our agency relationships, placing us in good stead for the future. We look forward to her contribution across the business moving forward."

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Jesse Snyder is a writer at Automotive News

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