Joel Ewanick has handed in his resignation to General Motors just two years after he was hired to shake things up regarding the company’s marketing operations. In a statement released by the company on Sunday night, Ewanick “has elected to resign immediately.” The company’s vice president of U.S. Sales and Service, Alan Batey, will take over Ewanick’s position as interim global marketing chief.
The reason for the abrupt resignation of Ewanick was not immediately given but reports online suggest that there was a confrontation between Ewanick and General Motors chairman and CEO Dan Akerson. Rumors also circulated that as of Sunday morning, it still was not determined whether or not the resignation would be reported as a voluntary removal or if Ewanick was removed from the company. In fact, just hours from the publication of the press release it was determined that Ewanick’s departure would be described as a voluntary resignation from the company.
“Dan Akerson is coming under intense scrutiny,” said John McElroy, host of internet television show Autoline After Hours. Akerson became the CEO of the company not long after it exited from Chapter 11 bankruptcy when Ed Whitacre stepped down. Akerson was responsible for adding Ewanick to the company when he took over. Ewanick worked briefly at Nissan in 2010. Ewanick ended the longstanding relationship between advertising agency Campbell-Ewald and the Chevrolet brand of vehicles. Earlier in 2012, Ewanick decided to remove GM ads from the 2013 Super Bowl and pulled the company’s $10 million ad account with Facebook.
McElroy defended the work performed by Ewanick, saying, “What you have to do is judge results. The question is whether Joel Ewanick has done a good job of taking the Chevrolet and Cadillac brands global. Chevy set a sales record last year and last month Malibu nearly outsold Camry while the new Sonic (subcompact) has done a real good job at the small end.”
Ewanick’s position at GM was also responsible for marketing the company outside of the United States, which was not successful. In 2012, GM is set to lose billions of dollars in foreign marketing practices. The billions of losses expected this year have led to personnel changes, including the removal of GM Europe CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke along with many of his top staff members.
“The timing of this (Ewanick’s departure) is very strange,” said Rebecca Lindland, a chief analyst with IHS Automotive, “coming on Sunday rather than waiting until next week when they have a conference call to announce the monthly sales numbers.”