GM Appoints New Marketing Officer After Going Seven Years Without

General Motors is moving Cadillac marketing chief Deborah Wahl up the food chain by appointing her as its global chief marketing officer — a position which has sat unfilled since 2012.

The previous CMO, Joel Ewanick, was removed by former CEO Dan Akerson over a costly Chevrolet-Manchester United sponsorship deal blew up in his face. Officially, General Motors said Ewanick “failed to meet the expectations the company has of an employee” and left the position vacant, distributing its duties among other employees — primarily Chevrolet’s now-retired CMO Tim Mahoney.

Wahl, 56, joined Cadillac in 2018, helping the brand further distance itself from the botched “Dare Greatly” advertising campaign. However, we’re not yet certain its freshened marketing materials are truly a cut from a different cloth. Several of the new spots carry over the same vague messaging, just with a bit more focus on product. Then again, perhaps the highbrow content is simply going over our heads. 

“After some careful thought and consideration, we felt it was best to take our name back and be unapologetically Cadillac again,” Wahl said earlier this year. “In our newest brand campaign, ‘Rise,’ we have decided to allow the Cadillac name and our crest speak for themselves and continue to tell the story of our reinvention.”

According to Automotive News, CEO Mary Barra announced Wahl’s corporate ascension in an internal memo posted on Thursday. “By aligning marketing across GM under Deborah’s leadership, we will build stronger brands while ensuring more effective, efficient and agile customer engagement,” Barra said. The document also included a handful of other high-level staffing changes.

From Automotive News:

The executive changes also included moving Travis Hester, 47, president of GM Canada, into a newly created position: global vice president of customer experience. Hester will be responsible for maximizing customer engagement across the company, Barra said in the memo, reporting to both [Barry] Engle and GM President Mark Reuss, according to a GM Canada statement.

Scott Bell, vice president of sales, service and marketing for GM Canada, will replace Hester as president of GM Canada. Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet truck marketing since March 2014, will replace Bell.

Before moving to Cadillac, Wahl worked in the marketing departments of Lincoln-Mercury, Lexus, and Toyota. She also spent a year as Chrysler’s CMO before putting in some time as McDonalds’ marketing chief. She’ll report directly to Americas head Barry Engle. Meanwhile, marketing leadership at Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, OnStar, and GM Financial will all report to Wahl. Melissa Grady, director of Cadillac media and performance marketing since September, will become Cadillac’s new CMO.

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