Former Ties Drive Change at Chevy


When Joel Ewanick was named vp of U.S. marketing at General Motors three weeks ago, some sources predicted that Goodby, Silverstein & Partners would benefit, given the agency's long ties to Ewanick, the shop's client connection at Hyundai and Porsche. What these sources didn't foresee, however, is how fast it would happen.

Last week's consolidation of the $650 million Chevrolet account at Goodby came on Ewanick's second week on the job, a few days after GM marketing executives met with Goodby leaders in San Francisco and just four weeks after GM had moved to consolidate the business at Publicis.

Clearly, as the automaker's largest-selling brand, Chevy's growth is key to GM rebounding and Ewanick has put his trust in an agency he knows well, albeit one with a mixed track record on cars.

"I'm not sure that if I were in [Ewanick's] shoes, I wouldn't have done the same thing," said a source about the Goodby hire. "He has a huge job. ... He needs to have the right agency, [one] he knows and has worked with."

Also, Ewanick, who was director of brand planning at The Richards Group from 2004-07, "is a former agency guy who connects with agency people," said another source. And in the relationship game that's advertising, Omnicom Group's Goodby cashed in on having a friend in a high place. Crispin Porter + Bogusky did the same when Volkwagen's Kerri Martin -- an ex-client at Mini Cooper -- hired the shop without a review in 2005.

On top of all that, sources said Ewanick views himself as a take-no-prisoners change agent inside GM and therefore not beholden to the company's long-standing relationships with Publicis parent Publicis Groupe or to Interpublic Group, whose Campbell-Ewald had been Chevy's longtime lead agency before Publicis's meteoric rise and fall.

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