GM (NYSE: GM) fired Joel Ewanick, its chief of global marketing. The car company said he “failed to meet expectations the company has for its employees”. The Wall Street Journal reported that he had not properly reviewed a soccer sponsorship. Among some parties an opinion has formed that Ewanick took the fall for GM’s poor sales performance. That would not be novel among large companies. J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) fired its president Michael Francis in June. He was in charge of the retailer’s overall marketing strategy. Revenue fell sharply in Penney’s last reported quarter. Coincidentally, Francis was gone about the same time. New CEO Ron Johnson kept his job despite the sales disappointment
The blame for GM’s lack of marketing success belongs to CEO and chairman Dan Akerson. Akerson took over as GM chief executive in September 2010 and became chairman at the start of 2011. Since then, GM’s shares have fallen almost 45%. The shares of arch rival Toyota (NYSE: TM) have fallen 3% over the same period. The reasons for GM’s sharp share price drop are its trouble in Europe and falling market share in the U.S. Without a solution to GM’s Europe losses, the company cannot regain any degree of strong operating margins.
Maybe Ewanick had to be fired. Perhaps he did something he should not have, or did much less as the head of marketing than senior management expected. But, Akerson’s performance is so obviously poor, it is a wonder he remains around.
Douglas A. McIntyre