GM Hires Former Hyundai Marketing Guru To Bail Out Its Image

Following the media drubbing of their not-exactly-true “We paid the government back” ad, GM has snatched the marketing whiz who most recently help Hyundai burnish its public image.

GM’s new VP of U.S. Marketing Joel Ewanick is the one given the credit for Hyundai’s Assurance program, which allowed customers to return their vehicles if they lost their income during a certain time period. It was a sales and PR boost to the car maker.

GM is now the third company to employ Ewanick in 2010. He left Hyundai early in the year to Nissan, where he worked as VP-Chief Marketing Officer for all of six weeks before being snatched up by General Motors.

The beleaguered car manufacturer is one of the top advertisers in the U.S. In 2008 alone, GM spent $2.9 billion on advertising, ranking fourth in the country according to Ad Age.

With a new IPO expected sometime in the next year, GM is going to have to focus a lot of its energy not just on improving their product but in regaining the trust of the consumers and of potential investors.

GM Hires Joel Ewanick as Marketing Chief [Ad Age]


Edit Your Comment

  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Is that Charles Dance?

    My dear, sweet brother Numpsay!

  2. MisterE says:

    Why not just build quality cars? The product should speak for itself!

    • fredbiscotti says:

      They do build quality cars. The fact that you (and lots of other commenters on teh internets) think otherwise is why they need to hire this guy.

      • rickhamilton620 says:

        This, the new Regal, the Malibu, the Cruze, Equinox, the Lambda crossovers, as well as the Aura and Astra are proof that when they set their mind to it they can, and do produce great cars. I’m not the biggest GM fan but they are getting better.

        It’s now the issue of fighting a big perception gap that widened due to the bankruptcy, and who better to fight it with than the guy who showed people that Hyundai builds great cars, and has been for a while now.

        • DjDynasty-Webology says:

          My astra has spent more time in the shop in the 27K miles I have on it, than the driveway. INFACT I had the bumper fall right off the vehicle!

      • LaziestManOnMars says:

        When GM acquired Saab, Saab’s quality PLUMMETED,

        As well, It’s not just the quality of the car, but the designs, and the fact that they have so many similar, mediocre models.

      • jayphat says:

        Quality off the assembly line is one thing. Anyone can do that (except GM in the 90’s). I want quality 4 years down the road. I’ve yet to see that from GM. Ford is very much getting there.

      • MisterE says:

        Respectfully, perhaps there is a tad bit of truth in my “opinion” and everyone else who decided not to buy a GM car?

        • captadam says:

          Depends … are you basing your opinion on a recent experience you had with a GM product or with some mid-90s crapbox you once knew? If the predominant opinion of GM’s products is based on what they offered before their product improved, well, then, yeah, a smart marketing mind is needed to tell people what GM really has to offer.

    • cacchip says:

      Yeah lets hear it for the new quality GM products. Like my 2006 chevy cobalt with 46000 miles- 2 recalls – 1 for bad power steering pump and another for leaky gas line. Had to replace one of the front hubs and a bunch of fuel injectors. I also have problems with the rear tires getting chewed up that I haven’t had time to get checked out. Tell me all about the new and improved GM.

  3. RStormgull says:

    Is it a bad thing that I actually want an Equinox now (or one of the new Cameros) and I didn’t before? I… I don’t really want to support GM, though now that I’m paying for their survival I might have to rethink that.

  4. Section917 says:

    Actually, GM builds some of the worst vehicles in the world. There’s a reason that people don’t buy them and it has nothing to do with marketing and everything to do with quality. People vote with their wallets, and they have not voted for GM for a long time. Hence, RIP Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn…

    • LaziestManOnMars says:

      Well, GM does make better cars than the Tata Nano.

      Saturn did have a pretty loyal following thou.

    • MentallyRetired says:

      Nobody buys GM anymore and that’s why they sold 15,000 more cars than Ford last month and 25,000 more cars than Toyota.

      • Section917 says:

        One month’s results is your barometer? Sounds like the global warming deniers saying climate change doesn’t exist because it snowed.

  5. mpaquette says:

    Hyundai, Nissan, GM all in 2010? Dude will be working for Chrysler by 2011.

  6. H3ion says:

    Some of the more recent GM cars really aren’t bad. The Malibu is probably equal to most of the Japanese imports (or domestically-made Japanese imports) and the Caddy has been well-received by the motor press. At least GM’s PR group has something to work with.

    • baquwards says:

      I rented a Malibu on a trip to LA, and was shocked at how nice it was. The engine was smooth, quiet and refined, it handled really well. I hated how it shifted though, I think that they were relying on the car staying in too high of a gear for fuel economy, on the highway it was fine, but on the PCH it was kind of annoying.

      Oh and the interior plastics were really really cheap looking. Fix those tow issues and the car would be near perfect in my eyes.

      • drrictus says:

        Yeah, GM’s quality reputation would improve if they could just prevent those “tow” issues with their cars.

        (Sorry, couldn’t resist. :P)

  7. cytoman says:

    He looks just like Danny Bonaduce!

  8. VRB says:

    As long as they are government motors, there really is no point to even try and revive this image.

  9. yankinwaoz says:

    Hey GM…. Hyundai regained the street cred by backing their cars with a kickass warranty. Sounds like GM is going back to the same old s**t. Rather than fix problems and make customers happy, they just hire another spin master to tell their customers that they are wrong.


  10. Mike says:

    The last dealership I worked at was a GM dealer. Here is what I learned about cars: people tend to build brand loyalty over years. Our current generation of college age and fresh out of college kids grew up driving their parent’s hand me down Camrys and Accords. Then these kids go to buy their first car and they go straight to the Civics and Corollas.

    The GM cars just did not age that well and did not create enough brand loyalty in the long run, since parents weren’t handing them down. And if you did get a GM car as a teenager it was an SUV or minvan, so you wanted nothing to do with that brand when it was time to get a new car, since it was too closely related to your mom’s van.

    GM is a HUGE car manufacturer, but they just make too many cars. For every good one in their lineup they have 3 mediocre ones, that is just not cutting it.

    If I had a dollar for every time I heard “the Chevy Malibu is as good as any Japanese car” I would be a rich man. It was as if they were trying to play catch-up all the time. Towards the end it began to sound so desperate to me, “please respect us.” The Malibu managed to go from a below average car, to just an average one, which was a huge step forward, but nothing too exciting.

    I remember sitting in a training room watching video of the new SUV models coming out and it sounded like the woman on the video was lying through her teeth the entire time when she was talking about GM quality.

    All that said there are some great used deals out there. The GTO is a great car, and you can get a used one in nice condition for around $15k. Also the G6 convertible is a steal if you want a convertible. The Solstice is fun if you avoid the 2.4l 177hp engine, make sure you get the one with the 2.0 260hp engine.

    Avoid to Cobalt at all costs, same for the Aveo. The Impala and Malibu are fine, but nothing to write home about. They put a lot of effort into the Camaro, you might be able to haggle a low mileage one down to $21k.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      yeah, i’m loyal to Toyota because that’s what i grew up with.
      I owned a 2000 Accord for a year, had to do $5000 in non-maintenance repairs… wasn’t worth it. replaced it with a camry, so far have had $60 in non-maintenance repairs. (some resistor for the AC system blew, fan wouldn’t turn on)

      If i were to buy a new car, i might be convinced to go with Hyundai, or possibly a Ford Fusion hybrid, but never a Nissan or Chrysler/GM

  11. ericfate says:

    My first hand me down was a GM (’85 Buick Skylark). It decided to have a catastrophic electrical failure while I was driving along the 580, and left me stranded in Livermore, CA for two days while some gas station mechanics tried to piece enough if it back together to allow me to drive home in it. Upon arriving home, it ceased to function entirely and was sold for scrap.

    My first self bought car was a ’76 Toyota Corona. I bought it in 1991 for $1,500 and drove it without issue until 1994 before re-selling it (in favor of another hand me down GM, this time an ’86 Olds).

    The Olds ran for three months, then developed serious problems with both the engine and the transmission. Ironically, someone eventually stole it for parts (they must have towed it because it certainly didn’t run by that point). They must have been really disappointed once they got it into the chop shop.

    I spent $1,400 of the insurance money to buy a ’80 Toyota Celica. I put 83,000 miles on that car before selling it to a neighbor in favor of a ’96 Toyota Rav4 that I picked up for $9,000.

    I just hit 200K miles on the Rav4. Why would I want a GM again?

  12. NOXIUS says:

    A common problem with some GM vehicles is they won’t shut off. When you call into CrapStar they tell you to let it run out of gas and will not send roadside assistance until it does. WTF am I paying them for? I called in for tech help and I get some guy in India or who knows where. How about using those tax dollars to hire some GD Americans!

    Sometimes truth is the best.

  13. Wrathernaut says:

    For me, it was the cars of Hyundai that turned their image around.

    They didn’t look for ways to produce cheaper econoboxes, they refreshed their image cars – Tiburon became beautiful, and Genesis took everyone by surprise.

    What did GM do? Killed Chevy’s affordable image car and tried to put their crappy econobox in every line Pontiac G3 ring a bell?

  14. mikedt says:

    Hyundai improved their image by offering a 10yr/100k mile warranty while at the same time actually making better cars. I’ve read many a press conference transcript where GM execs were asked why they don’t do the same if their cars are so much better now and every time the exec finds a lame reason why 10/100 isn’t necessary.

    Better ads are not the answer. Being willing to stand behind your product is.

  15. flyromeo333 says:

    my parents handed me down an 87 camry back in 1997. They purchased this car brand new and to this day its sitting in my garage. I use this car to get me from my home to the park and ride. I could care less if someone opens their door quickly as it will be another dent on it.
    Motor is still strong, body, ehhhh……its a 20+ year old car. No rush though, just dents.

    Its amazing how my 07 Acura TL sits right next it and I have no doubt in my mind the camry might outlive the TL.

    Its all about longevity and reliability which American car manufacturers lack.

  16. kjherron says:

    This American Life did a fascinating episode about the NUMMI joint venture between Toyota and GM, and how GM managed to screw it up.

  17. BorkBorkBork says:

    It took many years for Hyundai to turn around their image, during which they produced cars that were consistently better than the previous one. GM has to be willing to do the same…no resting on their laurels from now on.