Panic stations at Vauxhall and Opel agencies as GM’s Mr Shifter Joel Ewanick heads to Europe

Former Hyundai marketing boss Joel Ewanick took over as CMO of General Motors North America half way through last year and promptly threw a large chunk of the US agency scene into disarray, abruptly firing Bartle Bogle Hegarty from Cadillac and Publicis from biggest brand Chevrolet.

Now, newly-ensconced as CMO of the whole wide world, he’s coming to Europe to spread fear and terror among its agencies, Amsterdam Worldwide and Interpublic’s DLKW Lowe and McCann Erickson.

One of the reasons Lowe bought DLKW for £20m or so last year was to bring Vauxhall, the account it handled for two decades when Sir Frank Lowe was running the joint, back into the fold. But Ewanick is no respecter of history.

As for McCann it doesn’t seem to be on Ewanick’s radar in the US although Ad Age reports that it has won plaudits for its Chevrolet work in Brazil.

Ewanick’s big winner in the US was Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners which won Chevrolet from Publicis which had only just been hired to handle the account. Publicis Groupe then picked up Cadillac for Fallon following outraged representations from big boss Maurice Levy. Publicis Groupe also owns 49 per cent of BBH.

So what will Joel decide to do to the Europeans?

Goodby Silverstein, clearly his favourite agency, doesn’t have an operation in Europe although Omnicom obviously does. But Omnicom’s AMV handles Mercedes in the UK while DDB handles Volkswagen, vying with Toyota to be the world’s biggest car company.

Ewanick could, of course, do a Goodby Silverstein and hire the likes of Mother or Wieden & Kennedy as his hand maiden. Or stick with indie Amsterdam Worldwide. Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam has just hired seven senior creatives. Do they know something?

But with an adspend of $3bn plus, GM and Ewanick have an awful lot of clout.

Interpublic executives will be hoping they’re not going to be beaten around the head with it.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.