General Motors (GM - Get Report), which is still a third owned by Uncle Sam mind you, kicked marketing honcho Joel Ewanick to the curb on Sunday. Ewanick joined the automaker a little more than two years ago after a successful stint at Hyundai. At the time, GM was gearing up to emerge from bankruptcy and the gearheads in Detroit specifically brought in Ewanick to jump-start the world's largest failed carmaker.
And shock he did. Not only did Ewanick yank GM's paid advertising from media darling Facebook prior to its punk IPO -- the Times and WSJ should be reporting on this next week in case you missed it -- but he maddened Madison Avenue by pulling the automaker's ads from next year's Super Bowl. And you can also be sure that Ewanick's money-saving decision to consolidate GM's global advertising spending -- estimated at $4.5 billion annually -- went over "like a rock" with all those Don Draper wannabes intent on pitching Chevrolet like they always have.Unfortunately, Ewanick must have crossed the wrong cables in his attempt to add voltage to GM's moribund marketing department. From all indications, his undoing occurred after he punted on the biggest football game in America and went rogue in his ultimately successful play to grab the sponsorship of the biggest football (as in soccer) team in the world, Manchester United. The seven-year, multi-million dollar transaction was announced almost immediately after Ewanick's departure, allegedly with some of the deal's details altered after he was kicked in the ass by his former employer. Not that GM is offering any clues about why it gave Ewanick the boot. "He failed to meet the expectations that the company has for its employees," said GM spokesman Greg Martin, without offering any further color. What that means, honestly, we have no idea and we aren't sure if we will ever find out. For his part, Ewanick has remained mum on the details of his so-called resignation, tweeting that he wishes "everyone at GM all the best." Who knows, considering Ewanick was GM's fourth U.S. marketing chief in a year, maybe he was reluctant to comment because he wasn't expecting to stay that long anyway. Seriously, that kind of turnover is generally reserved for Knick point guards and the CEO spot at Yahoo! One thing that is clear and may have clinched Ewanick's overthrowing, however, is the fact that America's largest carmaker saw its market share shrink to 18.1% in the first half, down from 19.9% a year earlier. Much of that loss is due to a resurgent Toyota, a collapsing Europe and an electrical vehicle known as the Volt that gets lots of press but has sales that are still sort of lifeless and that even Ewanick's best efforts could not recharge. Nevertheless, for a company that has historically paid more attention to share than profits, that slippage was enough to remove any remaining doubts about Ewanick's future at the company. We just wish they would remove the doubts about what happened while he was still there. We'll keep checking Ewanick's Facebook page for a status update.