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Friday, 06 September 2019 20:29

GM Names New Chief of Global Marketing

Written by Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press
General Motors Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl. General Motors Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl. General Motors


In an effort to build General Motors' (GM) brands and improve customer service, the automaker has a new global marketing boss.


GM has promoted Cadillac marketing Chief Deborah Wahl, 56, to the job of global chief marketing officer.


Wahl has been the chief marketing officer for Cadillac since March 2018. She was charged with "redefining Cadillac’s reputation and repositioning it for the future," CEO Mary Barra said in a company memo Thursday, Sept. 5.


"This move will help us continue the transformation of our marketing organization while leveraging the team’s expertise," said Barra in the memo. "By aligning marketing across GM under Deborah’s leadership, we will build stronger brands while ensuring more effective, efficient and agile customer engagement."


This spring, Cadillac finished moving its headquarters from New York back to Warren, MI, to be closer to designers as the brand embarks an expansive product launch, rolling out a new vehicle every six months through 2021.


Wahl was chief marketing officer at McDonald’s USA before coming to Cadillac. But she spent more than a decade in the auto industry, at Chrysler, Lexus, Toyota, Lincoln-Mercury, Mazda and Ford of Brazil.


In her new role, she reports to Barry Engle, GM's president of the Americas.


GM hasn't had a chief marketing officer since Joel Ewanick in 2012. GM's then-CEO Dan Akerson fired Ewanick, reportedly because of an expensive sponsorship deal between Chevrolet and the Manchester United soccer team.


Chevrolet's marketing boss, Tim Mahoney, oversaw most of GM's marketing after Ewanick left. He retired March 1.


Melissa Grady, director of Cadillac media and performance marketing since September 2018, will replace Wahl as Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Barra said.


The marketing leaders at Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, OnStar, CCA and GM Financial will report to both Wahl and the leader of their respective business unit, Barra said.


GM reported a net profit of $2.4 billion for the second quarter, up 1.6% from the year-ago period, driven by sales of SUVs and redesigned pickups.


GM has been restructuring since late last year in preparation for a potential economic slowdown and consumers' shifting tastes from cars to SUVs and pickups.

It idled four U.S. plants, cut about 4,000 white-collar jobs and left some 3,745 U.S. factory jobs in transition or at risk, 2,800 of whom are active hourly workers.


GM said this restructuring will save it at least $2 billion this year, but some experts said GM could be looking at more cost-cutting as demand for autos is expected to stall.


In the Thursday, Sept. 5 memo, Barra outlined other leadership changes to help the company included moving Travis Hester, 47, president of GM Canada, moves 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. He reports to Engle and GM President Mark Reuss.


Scott Bell replaces Hester as president of GM Canada. He's been vice president of GM Canada Marketing, Sales and Service since June 2018. He will report to Engle.


We thank the Detroit Free Press for reprint permission.


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