To understand the challenges facing Joel Ewanick and Jim Farley in 2011, glance first at what the marketing chiefs at General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are not selling this year.
At GM, Ewanick no longer worries about Saab, Saturn, Pontiac or Hummer. For Farley, gone are Mercury, Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar.
In short, this year the top two domestic automakers are stripped down to wrestle with mainly two brands: Ford vs. Chevrolet.
What's more, the two automakers now have creative and experienced marketing executives -- Farley and Ewanick -- to match their improving product lineups.
The two learned much of their craft outside Detroit, and have not hesitated to shake up relationships in Detroit's advertising community.
Farley made a splash with a groundbreaking social media campaign to launch the Ford Fiesta. Ewanick loves TV.
In advertising, Farley compares the Ford brand to top imports. In Ewanick's first campaign for Chevrolet, he embraces the brand's long-standing bond with American drivers.
And for now, at least, the two marketers have some breathing room while the two top Japanese competitors, Toyota and Honda, are losing share.
So it's game on for Farley and Ewanick in 2011, a year in which the newly confident automakers will clash with fresh small cars, crossovers and hybrids.
"We see the first quarter as being incredibly important," Ewanick says. "We want to get out of the gate and into 2011 on a hot pace and build some momentum for the rest of the year. I think you'll find that we'll be fairly aggressive in the first quarter, especially with Chevy, and pull as many levers as possible."