IPG Taps GM Exec Walsh

NEW YORK Interpublic Group has attempted to shore up its relationship with General Motors by hiring Martin Walsh, a senior GM executive who has been with the automotive company for 33 years, to take on a new role at IPG. He will oversee and coordinate the holding company’s efforts on behalf of GM.
 
Walsh, 56, who was most recently general manager of GM’s Hummer division, will join IPG on June 15. IPG said Walsh would become a holding-company-level svp and “president of the GM Relationship” in a “new model,” which will initially be in effect for all domestic GM marketing efforts. IPG is GM’s largest marketing services partner and derives 13 percent of its business from the automotive and transport sector. (GM is approaching a government-imposed deadline of June 1 to restructure or file for bankruptcy.)
 
Walsh reports directly to IPG CEO Michael Roth. The company said Walsh “will be responsible for aligning the efforts of the various IPG agencies that work on GM business, ensuring optimal allocation of IPG resources against key GM strategic priorities and providing the client with a central point of contact to ensure maximum effectiveness of all marketing activities.”
 
Walsh began his GM career in Canada, where he rose through the sales and marketing ranks to lead national marketing. Subsequently, Walsh spent five years in Detroit as general director, marketing, for GM’s Cadillac division. He then moved on to GM Mexico, where he was executive director, vehicle sales and marketing in that country. Prior to his current position at Hummer, which he’s held since 2006, Walsh spent three years as the executive director, vehicle sales, service and marketing support for GM. 
 
“We all know this is a critical time in the history of General Motors, and we see it as an opportunity to come forward with a new way in which to deliver value for this key client,” said Roth. “As we thought through this new model for working more effectively and efficiently with GM, Martin became an obvious choice to lead it.”
 
Said Walsh: “The senior IPG team has been forward-thinking in putting together a new model that seeks to maximize the benefits we can deliver to GM. Putting in place dedicated leadership that thinks about the GM business holistically and manages resource allocation centrally — while also respecting the needs of GM’s multiple marketing groups and the strong existing bonds with outstanding (IPG) AORs such as Campbell-Ewald, Deutsch, McCann Erickson, Mullen and R*Works — should prove a powerful combination.”

Related: “IPG Girds for Possible GM Bankruptcy”