Ewanick, the 49-year-old marketer behind the Hyundai Assurance campaign, arrived this month at GM after less than two months at Nissan North America.
Ewanick's operating style was formed largely as general marketing manager at nimble Porsche Cars North America -- a far cry from bureaucratic, cautious GM. At GM, he has shown himself decisive and open to reviewing every facet of GM marketing.
GM declined to make Ewanick available for an interview. Four people familiar with his work at GM spoke with Automotive News, but declined to be identified.
Right away at GM, he told staffers that "he needed the freedom to do his own thing," one source says. "So that's what he's doing. There's a clear understanding that if things aren't working, things are going to change."
GM marketers already had spent a year reeling from change before Ewanick arrived.
Mark LaNeve, vice president of U.S. sales, service and marketing, lost control of U.S. marketing in July and left GM in October. Next came then-Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, whose marketing tenure lasted five months, and then-U.S. sales and marketing boss Susan Docherty, who lasted five months and now is transferring to GM's Shanghai office.
They wrestled with the fallout from GM's bankruptcy last year while the automaker focused on restructuring and generating cash. Now, the sources say, Ewanick is concentrating on strategies for each brand. He wants to turn away from marketing the whole corporation.
At Cadillac, for instance, he is keeping the positioning that GM's marketers had already chosen, targeting German luxury brands. But the next round of advertising, due in late summer or early fall, will inaugurate a new campaign instead of continuing the one launched this month, two sources say.
The new commercials likely will omit the "Mark of Leadership" tag line that has appeared at the end of this month's new TV spots and may have another slogan in its place, one of the sources says.
Ewanick's primary focus is Chevrolet, two sources say, which has accounted for 72 percent of GM's U.S. light-vehicle 2010 sales through April.
Two weeks after GM announced Ewanick's appointment, the automaker said Chevrolet would change advertising agencies for the second time in a month. Publicis Worldwide was out, despite having won the account in April over 91-year Chevrolet ad partner Campbell-Ewald. The San Francisco shop Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which took Ewanick's Hyundai Assurance campaign from concept to air in 37 days, was in.
Ewanick has also nixed the print-only "Excellence for All" tag line."It's not something you're going to see for much longer," says Chevrolet spokesman Klaus-Peter Martin.
Ewanick also will try to improve GM's use of social media -- connecting customers through online campaigns that use blogs, Facebook and YouTube. That's an area where GM trails Ford Motor Co. and other competitors.
"We are light-years behind," one insider says. "That's where we need help."