Just one week after his return to work following open heart surgery, General Motors advertising boss Phil Guarascio announced he will retire from the company May 1.
Taking over management of GM's ad and corporate marketing is John G. Middlebrook, who will maintain his role as vice president and general manager of vehicle brand marketing.
Middlebrook is a GM veteran who formerly was general manager of the Chevy Division and was also involved in the launch of Saturn.
Middlebrook was not available for comment Friday, nor was Guarascio, 58, who made the announcement during a GM Day luncheon at the Detroit Adcraft Club.
As vice president of advertising and corporate marketing, Guarascio controlled GM's $2.5 billion ad budget. During his 14-year GM tenure he brought marketing to the forefront at the Detroit automaker and made sweeping changes in the company's marketing structure.
Guarascio joined GM in 1985, after 21 years with the former Benton & Bowles ad agency in New York. In 1992, he was promoted to general manager of marketing and advertising of North American Operations.
He wasn't made a vice president until 1994, shortly after he turned down an offer to become president of Turner Broadcasting Sales.
One of his biggest initiatives was the 1992 introduction of the GM Card, a Mastercard program that allows holders to earn rebates on vehicle purchases.
The new ad and marketing staff reporting structure under Middlebrook "will continue GM's efforts to more fully integrate the divisional and vehicle brand marketing efforts with the overall advertising and corporate marketing initiatives," said GM marketing executive Bill Lovejoy.
Guarascio told the Adcraft audience that his Feb. 2 triple bypass led him to reevaluate his priorities and that he was moving on to "the third phase" of his career. A release from GM said he was "considering several options" for the future.