Posted by: David Welch on June 25, 2010
Not even two months into the job, General Motors Co. marketing Vice President Joel Ewanick is already shaking things up. Adweek reported that he has replaced Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty as Cadillac’s advertising agency after six months with the account, handing the estimated $250 million in business to Fallon.
It’s not a big surprise. Ewanick is known for moving quickly and any new marketing chief will want to bring in his own people and favored agencies. Last month, he brought in San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein and Partners for the Chevrolet account, replacing Paris-based Publicis after just a few weeks. Publicis had been hired by GM before Ewanick arrived to replace Campbell Ewald, which did Chevy’s advertising for decades.
Even before Ewanick arrived, GM wasn’t blown away by some of the Cadillac work done by BBH. The company asked for changes several times, says one person with direct knowledge of Cadillac’s advertising. Cadillac wants ads that focus more on the cars and have less emphasis on sizzle and sophisticated graphics, the source said.
Expect more changes to come. Two people close to GM’s marketing operations say Ewanick wants to bring in some outside marketing talent to add some brain power to GM’s ranks. Given the company’s woeful marketing efforts in recent years and its brand-image challenges, it could be just what the company needs. The company’s brands have lurched from one marketing message to another for a decade, with a revolving door of marketing bosses to keep the churn going. Cadillac, for example, has had three marketing heads in a year.
And make no mistake, Cadillac is a big marketing challenge. Last year’s sales were the worst since 1953, albeit in a woeful car market. The brand ranked eighth among 12 luxury car brands in the Luxury Institute’s 2009 survey of people making more than $150,000 a year. Only one-third of respondents said the brand is worth paying a premium to buy, compared with 57% for BMW and 62% for Mercedes. At 62 years old, the average buyer is 13 years older than a BMW buyer. That’s a long way of saying that the brand isn’t hip. Cadillac has some strong models with the CTS sedan and new SRX SUV. But GM needs to get the core of the luxury consumers to check out the new, aggressively-styled and sporty models that are the antithesis of the brand’s old geezer image. Now it’s up to Ewanick and Fallon to get luxury buyers to give those cars a look.