General Motors is close to hiring a new global chief for Chevrolet who would oversee all its sales, service, advertising and brand management.
GM is said to be readying an offer to a global executive currently working in Europe outside the auto industry
That would be about right since GM CEO Dan Akerson himself is from outside the industry and doesn’t necessarily believe auto experience is mandatory for key jobs at the automaker.
Akerson has been criticized for moving execs without auto industry experience into key posts. Last fall, GM’s CEO tapped Bob Ferguson to the newly-created position of VP to head Cadillac globally, overseeing retail, marketing, brand management and advertising for the lux brand in all markets around the world.
Ferguson was a former AT&T executive and GM lobbyist, who now reports directly to Akerson.
The new Chevy and Cadillac global chiefs will replace a single global CMO at GM. Last year, Akerson moved Alan Batey to VP-US sales and service and interim global CMO after CMO Joel Ewanick was pushed out.
Ewanick’s hand-picked, right-hand man, Chris Perry, is the current global marketing chief for Chevrolet and was said to be a contender for the new global Chevy post that, like Ferguson at Cadillac, would also oversee sales and service.
GM’s moves to hire non-auto outsiders brings back the nightmare of the 1990s, when it brought in Ron Zarrella from Bausch & Lomb as its brand czar in North America, along with a slew of outsiders for brand managers of individual models. It wasn’t long before he was quickly promoted to president of North American operations. Under the marching orders of Board Chairman John Smale, another non-car guy, GM shifted to an ill-advised and clunky brand management system that wasted billions of dollars trying to create individual personalities for virtually all model , which were being designed by committee. It was a disaster of epic proportions. Zarrella resigned in late 2001, within months after GM hired Bob Lutz to succeed him. Zarrella amazingly admitted in a conference call with reporters before he left that he learned much about the car business in the several weeks he had spent with Lutz at GM. Mind you, this was the head of GM in North America confessing to on-the-job training !
GM doesn’t have time to train an industry newbie for the Chevy worldwide post. The brand is preparing to launch more than 20 vehicles around the world this year as it continues a push to grow globally. The new bowtie chief, whoever it is, needs to be able to immediately start swimming in the job, not jumping onto a learning curve and possibly sinking.
MAKING TRACKS: Abbey Berryman joins Carat USA as VP-director on the Chevrolet account from Vibrant Media, where she was senior sales manager. Berryman, a seasoned media maven, also worked on Chevy’s account as media director at Starcom, GM’s former media shop. Congrats!
MAKING TRACKS II: Colleen DeCourcy is moving to Widen+Kennedy in Portland as co-global executive creative director from Socialistic, the social media shop she started in 2010. The move brings DeCourcy back on the Chrysler account, among others. She worked on the automaker’s digital account when she was chief creative officer of Omnicom Group’s Organic.
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