This Thanksgiving, the city of Detroit ought to be especially thankful for Joel Ewanick, General Motors’ new marketing chief. His duel mission of reviving Detroit and selling cars is something that any city struggling with an image problem would appreciate.
Mark Reuss, GM’s North American president, recruited Ewanick from Nissan. According to the Detroit Free Press, after jumping on board with GM and taking up the challenge of helping Detroit make a come back, Ewanick flew to San Francisco to pitch ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners on the idea of having an office in downtown Detroit. It worked so well that after he spoke, employees were volunteering to relocate there.
Plans include partnering with five Detroit schools, having ad agency employees teach Detroit School of Arts students how to create TV public service announcements and assisting the city with creating better recreational area.
“We have a rare opportunity to launch a new company…but it also can be a very exciting rebirth of the city,” the Free Press quoted Reuss as saying.
As GM emerges post-bankruptcy, it’s encouraging to see the company looking beyond its immediate concerns to address ways in which it can improve life in the local community. It’s a move that will pay dividends down the road as a revitalized company and city grow and mutually support each other.
As a community relations case study, this one would be hard to beat.
Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.