GM trashes yet another piece of ousted CMO's legacy


After first extolling global CMO Joel Ewanick as some kind of wunderkind and then unceremoniously firing him, GM has been dismantling his marketing policies piece by piece. The latest piece to hit the scrap heap is his decision to cancel paid Facebook advertising, the company confirmed April 9.

Another one bites the dust

In an August 29, 2012, conference call, CFO Dan Ammann declared  that “The fundamental approach is no change. The consolidation of agency spend, all the things we did with our media buy, those are all very real drivers of efficiencies and we’re absolutely going to continue with those.”

But ever since then, the struggling automaker has been making changes galore.

  • They undid “the consolidation of agency spend” by first reassigning advertising for their most profitable nameplates – Silverado and Sierra trucks – to outsider and former Cadillac agency Leo Burnett.
  • Then they further undid Ewanick’s Commonwealth ad agency consortium by firing his favorite agency, Goodby Silverstein
  • January 28, they scrapped the “Chevy Runs Deep” slogan that Ewanick introduced in 2010 with “Find new roads.”

And now they’re reversing what was probably Ewanick’s most publicized and most controversial marketing decision – to cancel $10 million worth of paid Facebook advertising just three days before its IPO.

Now it can be told

At the time, GM’s excuse for yanking the Facebook campaign was that its feel-good, eco-friendly “Plant a Tree” campaign failed to have “significant consumer impact.” This was blaming the medium for the campaign’s failures, since rival Ford’s Fiesta test-drive campaign on  Facebook was boosting showroom traffic by 104 percent, which is certainly “significant consumer impact.”

But now, Advertising Age reports,

GM is returning to Facebook ads despite not getting its way…GM’s decision to withdraw came after a meeting between Mr. Ewanick, other top GM marketing brass and Facebook sales executives in which the automaker asked if could run bigger, higher-impact ads than what had been available.

Since then, Facebook has introduced its FBX ad exchange and shifted advertising focus from social ads to more traditional forms of online advertising. “We’ve had an ongoing dialogue with GM over the last 12 months and are pleased to have them back as an advertiser,” Facebook said in a statement.

Finding new advertising roads?

“Chevrolet is testing a number of mobile-advertising solutions, including Facebook, as part of its ‘Find New Roads’ campaign,” GM’s VP-U.S. Chevrolet marketing Chris Perry told Ad Age. “Today, Chevrolet is launching [a] ‘mobile-only’ pilot campaign for the Chevrolet Sonic that utilizes newly available targeting and measurement capabilities on Facebook.”

Nobody knows yet whether that’ll work better than planting trees. But one thing is obvious: Chevy may no longer run deep at GM, but revenge apparently does.

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