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by Tim Beissmann

General Motors has sacked its head of global marketing, reportedly over a controversial deal that will see Chevrolet sponsor English soccer team Manchester United in a multi-million-dollar arrangement that runs into the next decade.

Bloomberg reports GM company executives questioned global marketing chief Joel Ewanick over the Manchester United sponsorship agreement and subsequently felt they had no choice but to ask for his resignation after he failed to make some of the details of the deal clear.

Ewanick reportedly agreed to pay more than 25 million pounds ($37 million) per year for seven years to have the Chevrolet badge appear on the shirts of the world’s most popular soccer team – 25 per cent more than the existing deal with Aon Corp.

Despite its apprehensions with the arrangement, GM plans to see the partnership through. The deal is set to cost GM in excess of $260 million between the 2014/2015 to 2020/2021 English Premier League seasons.

Former Holden boss Alan Batey has been appointed interim global chief marketing officer in Ewanick’s place – the appointment coming just two months after Batey was promoted to the role of GM vice president US sales and service. Batey led Holden for a little over six months between September 2009 and March 2010.

Ewanick joined GM from Nissan in May 2010 and assumed the lead marketing role later that year. Two months ago, he caused a stir when he said GM was pulling all of its advertising from social networking site Facebook, and also said the manufacturer would not advertise during the 2013 Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, incoming Opel/Vauxhall design boss Dave Lyon has walked away from the company just days before he was due to officially start in his new role.

Lyon was set to replace Opel’s current design boss, Mark Adams, who has been appointed design director for Buick and Cadillac in the US, but GM has since confirmed Lyon is no longer employed by the company, giving no reason for his sudden and unexpected departure.

Adams will assume his new role in the US while retaining the lead design position at Opel until a successor is found.

Lyon’s resignation comes just weeks after Karl-Friedrich Stracke stepped down as Opel CEO as the company continues to strive towards new ways of making its European operations profitable in a struggling market.

GM Europe’s losses have totalled US$16.4 billion ($15.6 billion) since 1999.




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