Chief Batey now Get Finish what he Started

One of the last vestiges of the roller-coaster Joel Ewanick era in General Motors GM marketing now has disappeared as GM named Alan Batey to the newly created post of senior vice president of Chevrolet worldwide.

The move answered the one hanging question from Ewanick’s two-year reign as GM’s global CMO that ended last summer: Would GM ever name a replacement for him?

GM officially swept past that issue this week when it named Batey, who was named Ewanick’s immediate successor but only as “interim global CMO, to the new position, charging him with growing GM’s largest brand into a global powerhouse.

Interestingly, the new chief of the most iconic American car brand is a Brit who clearly merited his latest appointment by providing a steadying influence for Chevy over the last year and also by moving the brand forward even when his long-term responsibilities weren’t fully defined. Batey already was well down the path of rolling out a strategy that he now will be fully empowered to execute.

Batey didn’t simply warm Ewanick’s seat. Over the last year, also in the capacity of vice president of U.S. sales, Batey has presided over the launch of the Spark minicar and new Impala full-size sedan; introduced the new worldwide brand theme for Chevy, “Find New Roads,” last winter; oversaw the early stages of the current crucial debut of a new version of the Silverado pickup truck; initiated a program to transform Chevrolet’s network of 3,000 US dealerships; and has been stepping up GM’s emphasis on the global nature of Chevrolet for all of that time.

In the meantime, Chevy also has added Tim Mahoney as CMO, who was CMO for Volkswagen of America and joined Chevrolet several weeks ago. Reporting to Batey, Mahoney remains responsible for brand image and reputation of Chevrolet on a global basis, brand consistency and message coordination. Chris Perry—who originally was recruited by Ewanick and followed him from Hyundai—remains U.S. vice president of Chevy marketing, responsible for U.S. marketing and advertising and reporting to Mahoney.

GM kept the title of “interim global CMO” attached to Batey as he picked up the pieces after Ewanick’s stormy reign and messy departure. But CEO Dan Akerson decided that he didn’t want to restore the global CMO position and, in the process of selecting long-term responsibilities for Batey, Akerson was able to underscore the primacy of GM’s car brands over any corporate-brand umbrella.

“Chevrolet is our mainstream global brand, and with the growth we are experiencing and the barrage of new products we have coming, the time is right for us to have a single leader responsible for managing the brand around the world,” Akerson said in a statement. Batey “has worked in markets all over the world, has demonstrated the ability to deliver great business results and understands how to balance global brand consistency while maintaining the local voice of the customer.”

In the U.S. alone this year, Chevy will roll out 13 new or redesigned models, and 12 more in international markets. Chevy’s U.S. sales growth and market share have been lagging a bit lately but Chevy sold a record 1.2 million units worldwide during the first quarter, the brand’s tenth straight quarter of record global sales.

Batey’s ascension closes a turbulent era in GM’s marketing and comes at a time of great promise for Chevrolet. Akerson will do everything he can to help Batey fulfill it.