Mark LaNeve Reappears at Team Detroit

Former GM executive heads to Ford’s ad agency.

If you follow the fortunes of the Detroit 3, you know that executives come and executives go. At times it can see like a revolving door with execs appearing and disappearing in rapid fashion.

Executive Rolodex

Yesterday, we reported on the departure of GM’s marketing whiz, Joel Ewanick, who got in a dust up with GM management over a deal he made with the Manchester United football club.

Mark LaNeveAccording to BusinessWeek, that brouhaha had to do with Ewanick not disclosing the full cost of a marketing deal that approaches $300 million over seven years. GM says that it will honor its agreement, but Ewanick is out. Then again, it could be that GM is simply unhappy that its U.S. sales are up just 5 percent while its market share has fallen, with Ewanick perhaps blamed for the company’s lagging growth in an industry that is up 15 percent through June.

LaNeve Returns

Mark LaNeve, a name familiar to GM watchers, is the latest executive to make some noise this week. LaNeve left GM in late 2009 and spent some time at Allstate as its chief marketing officer. He left Allstate in February and will be appointed as chief operating officer for Team Detroit, Ford’s ad agency.

LaNeve was credited with bringing the Cadillac CTS to the market and managed GM’s luxury brand for several years. The CTS began a shift in perceptions about Cadillac, demonstrating to all that it had the chops to take on its European competitors. Before LaNeve left, a second generation CTS hit the market, a model line now comprised of standard and sport sedans, a luxury wagon and a coupe. Before LaNeve left, GM had already started work on the compact Cadillac ATS, a BMW 3-Series competitor.

Lincoln Loving

Expect LaNeve to have a hand in directing Ford’s efforts to raise Lincoln’s visibility. The beleaguered Lincoln was America’s best-selling luxury brand as recently as 1998, but has fallen on tough times since. New models are planned including an all-new Lincoln MKZ with an optional panoramic roof. That model debuts this fall and will include both gasoline and hybrid editions.

There is no word yet where Joel Ewanick will land, but perhaps as LaNeve left the car manufacturing industry for a season, Ewanick may find a home beyond the Detroit 3 too. Talented industry executives have a habit of landing on their feet, given a chance to once again hold sway over brands and entire companies as the opportunity arises.

Media courtesy of General Motors Company.