Bob Lutz is out as chief marketing officer at General Motors, the automaker confirmed today.
He remains with the car giant as vice chairman and adviser.
Susan Docherty takes the wheel guiding GM’s image as vp, vehicle sales, service and marketing operations. She had been vp, U.S. sales.
That change and others were detailed in a company statement today, and the moves follow by three days the abrupt departure of GM chief executive Fritz Henderson, whose duties have been assumed by chairman Ed Whitacre.
GM said the moves were made “to improve accountability and responsibility for market performance in North America and around the world.”
GM spent $2.1 billion on ads last year and an estimated $870 million through the first nine month of 2009, per Nielsen.
“I want to give people more responsibility and authority deeper in the organization and then hold them accountable,” said Whitacre. “We’ve realigned our leadership duties and responsibilities to help us meet our mission to design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.”
It was unclear if the changes would have an impact on GM work in review, such as the ongoing pitch for Cadillac. Company reps did not immediately respond to queries for more information.
After emerging from federal bankruptcy protection earlier this year, GM aired a high-proile “Reinventon” push that included a spot starring Whitacre.
The commercial was panned by most ad critics, including Adweek’s Barbara Lippert. In a critique titled “GM’s Chairman of the Bored,” she wrote:
“The setup has virtually no meaning anymore, except as parody. But it has no meaning squared when delivered by a guy who’s been with GM a few months. And the fact that vice chairman, marketing and communications Bob Lutz decided not to use himself or CEO Fritz Henderson, but someone “untainted,” just shows how insular GM culture is. Nobody outside of Detroit is studying the roster of executives.”
Around the same time — mid-September — this is how Lutz defended the choice of using Whitacre to the press: “He’s tall, good-looking, has…impeccable white hair, has this nice soft, Texas drawl, limps a little bit when he walks, which sort of gives him that old cowboy look.”