GM's new marketing chief speaks and communicates - thank goodness

Chrissie Thompson covers GM for Automotive News
“Over-communicate and over-communicate and over-communicate.”

That was Joel Ewanick's message Tuesday in his coming-out party with reporters. On a conference call about the Chevrolet Volt, GM's new U.S. marketing chief said GM would provide a Web site so customers can track orders for Chevrolets, including the Volt. The automaker will also call Volt buyers once dealers have placed orders and before each specific Volt is up for production.

“If you know where you are in line, that takes a lot of that anxiety away,” Ewanick said.

From my first 30 minutes of Ewanick exposure, I'd say his emphasis on communication comes straight from his personality.

What was he like? Well, he answered questions clearly. He gave lots of concrete examples without needing to be pressed to do so. If a reporter asked a question about something confidential, such as the Volt's residual value, Ewanick just said he couldn't answer -- no canned, vague responses.

You'd think this would be common for auto executives. Not always. And GM has employed its share of executives who favored the vague over the direct. Ewanick joins a group of GMers who are different, thank goodness.

Ewanick's true test at GM will be whether he can drive up demand with creative, stable advertising messages. But can he give reporters information when they ask for it? So far, so good.