DETROIT -- This summer, General Motors Co. grouped marketing and communication under Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to sell GM's improving lineup. But last week, that alignment was broken up by interim CEO Ed Whitacre.
Just as GM needs to build sales momentum, it has shuffled its marketing organization by removing Lutz as its top marketing executive. In Susan Docherty, it now has its third marketing chief in the past six months.
Lutz, 77, will remain vice chairman and become an adviser on design and global product development. The unified message-creating machinery assembled by Lutz was scattered by Whitacre's changes.
On the other hand, sales and marketing reunited under Docherty. They had been separated by Henderson.
Docherty, 47, now vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing, will report to Mark Reuss, the new president of GM North America. Chris Preuss, the head of public relations, also had reported to Lutz but now reports to Whitacre.
Lutz was trying to punch up GM's message by getting different departments, such as design and advertising, to work together. For example, he chose Bryan Nesbitt, an auto designer who made his name styling the Chrysler PT Cruiser, to run Cadillac. Nesbitt had been vice president of GM's North American design.
Docherty was mentored by Mark LaNeve, 50, who had been vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing until July, when Lutz took command of marketing. LaNeve left GM in October to run marketing for Allstate.
Some insiders see Docherty as part of the "Cadillac mafia." That's a group of fast-track GM vets who were a part of Cadillac's renaissance earlier this decade. Docherty had been head of U.S. sales before last week's promotion. Before that she was general manager of the Buick and GMC brands.
When Lutz took command of marketing, he openly criticized the Buick commercials launching the 2010 LaCrosse sedan -- spots Docherty had blessed as head of Buick and GMC.
Whitacre's restructuring of marketing has some GM insiders worried GM is returning to a decentralized structure that didn't work before. But some applaud the changes.
"This makes a lot more business sense to me than the other way," said Duane Paddock, co-chairman of GM's National Dealer Council. "It cleans it up and streamlines it for everyone."