The writer, an automotive marketer, worked for almost 25 years on General Motors advertising.
To the Editor:
Regarding Jesse Snyder's blog "Remembering Bob Stempel, car guy" (autonews.com, May 10): It is always unfortunate to report the death of a well known automotive personality.
It's also sad to remember the unfortunate experience Stempel and his chosen ally, Lloyd Reuss, suffered in the infamous General Motors boardroom coup in 1992. Board member John Smale, former head of Procter & Gamble, led a public outcry against GM management, demanding the resignation of Stempel, the CEO, and Reuss, the president.
Smale charged that none of GM's managers knew how to market cars and said the automaker needed new marketing people and new ideas.
He supported the election of Jack Smith as the new CEO and proceeded to take over GM marketing. He hired outsider Ron Zarrella from Bausch & Lomb, and gave him full authority to restructure all the divisional and corporate marketing teams, hiring only people from the outside who had no experience in automotive marketing.
History will tell you that was a disastrous move, resulting in a complete collapse of GM marketing efforts, with the introduction of the meaningless, indulgent term "brand management."
In my opinion, Smale inflicted more damage on GM than any other individual, including Roger Smith. The ultimate result was the loss of four major brands and bankruptcy. It leads one to wonder what would have happened if Stempel and Reuss had been allowed to continue to run the corporation.