Nissan snags Hyundai marketing chief Ewanick
One of Ewanick's chief challenges at Nissan will be marketing the Leaf electric car.
As vice president of marketing for Hyundai Motor America, Ewanick was credited with developing last year's attention-getting “Hyundai Assurance Program.” The program featured Jeff Bridges calmly guaranteeing customers that they could return their Hyundai purchases with no credit implications should they lose their job.
Hyundai launched it amid recession jitters during the 2009 Super Bowl.
The assurance campaign boosted the number of people willing to buy a Hyundai during the industry sales downturn of 2009.
Ewanick, who joined Hyundai in 2007, told Advertising Age last year that the entire campaign moved from concept to broadcast in just 37 days, a notable feat in the committee-heavy world of national advertising.
Under Ewanick, Hyundai was named the 2009 Marketer of the Year by Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News. Ewanick also was named No. 14 on the the trade publication's 2009 Power Players list.
He will step into the post of Nissan Division vice president of marketing, responsible for marketing communications, pricing and product management.
That post was vacated in early February when Nissan Motor Co. promoted Christian Meunier to become president of Nissan Brazil.
Like Hyundai, Nissan has been gaining market share as two of its larger Detroit 3 competitors dragged through financial troubles. At the end of February, Nissan was the industry's No. 5 brand, with an 8 percent U.S. market share, up from 7 percent a year earlier.
Hyundai is now the No. 6 brand, with a 4.4 percent share at the end of February, up from 4.1 percent a year earlier.
Ewanick now will face a huge marketing task in the coming nine months as Nissan prepares to launch the Leaf, a mass-market electric car.
Nissan must simultaneously market the Leaf as an appealing five-passenger car and also educate consumers on how electric cars will work, how home and public recharging works, and how they will benefit from owning a gasoline-free vehicle.
John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said the company hasn't determined whether to recruit a new marketing head from outside or to promote from within.
But later today, Hyundai named Chris Perry the interim head of its marketing department.
“We'll definitely miss” Ewanick, said Hyundai spokesman Chris Hosford. “He made a lot of great contributions, but having said that we have good bench strength in our marketing department.”
Hosford said “it's certainly possible” that Perry, a 12-year veteran at the company, could be picked as the new vice president.
Perry's previous job was director of marketing and advertising. Many dealers have credited him with being a key player in some of Hyundai's new marketing ideas.
Kathy Jackson and Advertising Age contributed to this report.
You can reach Lindsay Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.