DETROIT -- Joel Ewanick, General Motors Co.'s new marketing chief, says he'll keep bringing in new blood until the automaker gets its marketing messages right.
"My boss, Mark Reuss, asked me to bring people into the organization that will challenge the way we look at things," Ewanick said, referring to GM's president of North America.
"As you go through a war and you get too close to things, you forget. You forget to see things through the eyes of the consumer."
Ewanick's message is a complicated mix of change and restoration of the themes and strategies that made GM great.
For instance, he wants to tap into the deep connection between Chevrolet and American car buyers. All of GM's brands must relearn how to tell their stories in advertising to establish strong identities, Ewanick said.
First, though, GM must end the bad habits that thrived in the years leading up to last year's bankruptcy. Marketing, he said, cannot be dominated by eight to 10 sales events a year to clear vehicle inventory. The culture must change to avoid slow, data-soaked decision-making. And GM executives must learn that what sells cars is talking about the brands, not GM.