CEO and founder of Big Fuel Avi Savar has noted that he has somewhere around 15 people currently in Detroit but is looking to up that number to about 30 by March. Big Fuel currently employs about 80 other people in an office in New York who handle the social media marketing for such corporations as McDonald's, Neutrogena and Colgate-Palmolive's Wisp toothbrush. By the end of 2011 Savar hopes to have more than 200 people on his staff.
GM brought Big Fuel on to handle their social media marketing about three months ago when the company was getting ready to work with Hyundai. However, this deal fell through after Joel Ewanick, lead marketer of Hyundai, moved to GM and persuaded Big Fuel to follow. Big Fuel has yet to do any campaigns with GM but a few are primed to release in January, according to Savar, including an ad for the Chevrolet Cruz known as the "Cruze-arati" which gives free cars to people who have large followings on social media outlets.
The previous social media marketing firm for GM was run in-house by Mary Henige and Chris Barger. These two were in charge of a program back in March that took eight teams of bloggers and drivers to attend South by Southwest on behalf of GM. According to Hanige, "They've been retained by marketing so you'll see more brand focused social marketing campaigns, which is good. We'll work with them, continue to lead GM's brand efforts and maintain and increase the relationships we've built."
Ford, one of GM's biggest rivals, has often dwarfed GM's social media marketing, maybe because Scott Monty, the social media marketing guy for Ford, has over 48,000 followers on Twitter alone. It also didn't help GM when Ford launched the Ford Explorer on Facebook and began circulating videos with celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Bret Michaels answering consumer questions about the model back in November.
Avi Savar and Big Fuel have their work cut out for them. With stiff competition from Ford and other companies, Big Fuel is going to need to do something tremendous in order to bring back attention to the dying General Motors before Obama has to bail them out again.