Dealers mixed on Ewanick
DETROIT -- Chevrolet dealers reacted with mixed feelings to last week's abrupt departure of General Motors global marketing chief Joel Ewanick.
On one hand, many dealers shared the displeasure of many critics with the brand's "Chevy Runs Deep" theme that has been in place since the fall of 2010, soon after Ewanick's arrival.
The campaign has been criticized for failing to create an identity or narrative for GM's mainstay brand. The company has said it's reviewing whether to continue with the tag line.
"Some of it has worked and some of it hasn't," says Duane Paddock, owner of Paddock Chevrolet near Buffalo, N.Y., one of Chevy's highest-volume stores.
"I think it's good that we'll have a different set of eyes on our marketing," Paddock says. "We certainly can do better."
But Paddock and some other dealers also praised improvements Chevrolet has made in its work on the local marketing associations, which are dealer groups that run market-specific advertising, funded jointly by dealers and GM.
Harry Criswell, vice president of a 28-dealership group in the Washington, D.C., area, says his group has been using GM-created ad content almost exclusively over the past two years. Before that, the group often created its own material for commercials or radio spots.
"The only reason we used to go out and pay for our own ad is because a lot of times theirs sucked," Criswell says. "But their ads have gotten so much better. They've turned the corner."
He cites a campaign Chevy ran last fall that featured a Santa Claus look-alike named Nick on a dealership sales staff. In January, Ewanick told Automotive News that those spots had among the highest ever "take rates" from local dealer groups.
Ewanick also was happy with the ongoing national campaign for local dealer groups dubbed "Under the Blue Arch." The commercials feature an ensemble cast of supposed dealership salespeople, mostly goofing off in a gleaming new Chevy store.
A GM spokesman says the commercials have scored highly in ratings by market researcher Nielsen Co. He says many dealers were skeptical of the campaign but have come around.
Not all of them, though. "It makes dealers look like idiots," grouses one Chevy dealer.
The spokesman says GM has improved its process for working with the local marketing groups. Chevy recently formed a committee of dealers to get input on advertising strategy. And it's offering dealers a wider variety of ad content to use in their local spots.
He says: "They've got a lot more choice than they did before."
You can reach Mike Colias at email@example.com.