Arun Sudhaman 19 Jan 2017 // 10:54AM GMT
DAVOS — General Motors global communications SVP Tony Cervone has admitted that Donald Trump's stance influenced the company's decision to announce 1,500 new US jobs earlier this week.
Two weeks ago Trump targeted GM by tweeting, "General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers - tax free across border. Make in U.S.A or pay big border tax!"
At the time, GM responded by stating that the Cruze is primarily made in Ohio. Earlier this week, the company announced a $1bn investment in the US, including 1,500 new manufacturing jobs and 5,000 jobs in finance and advanced tech over the next few years.
"It would be an incorrect assertion to suggest the President-elect didn’t have any influence on that announcement," Cervone told the Holmes Report in Davos.
Cervone added that discussing who should get credit for the company's announcement is "completely missing the point". Numerous media sources have suggested that GM's jobs plans were in place since 2014.
Indeed, Cervone believes that making the announcement this week demonstrates an ability to harness the prevailing news agenda to the company's benefit.
"I challenge my team daily to say, 'how do we fit into the bigger story?" he said. "The point is, to my mind, we have somebody who is driving the conversation regularly, and everyone is reacting to that. In our world, being part of the larger conversation is a pretty good way to get your news out."
However, Cervone declined to comment on whether GM had changed its strategy in response to Trump, or the decision to make an announcement. "I'm not going to get into it. I can’t win."
"We are being tactically astute," added Cervone. "We’re a huge company — it’s not like we don’t have conversations with the President-elect and his transition team."
Cervone also dismissed the notion that the company is challenged by having to respond to Trump's criticism on Twitter. "We are constantly monitoring everything that’s trending," he said. "This is certainly a continuation of that, but it’s not unique to this. What’s truly unique is how it becomes a trending conversation because of how everyone’s reacting to it."
"How you react is no different to how you evaluate how you react in other situations," he added. "The key for me is taking a step back and looking at it within the context of the intention. Within the complexity of a business that can’t be summarised within 140 characters."
"When he tweeted on the Chevy Cruze thing, we didn’t retweet," continued Cervone. "We put out a statement. It was a very measured response. It calmed things down. There’s different places, different times, different ways. Politics aside, you have to respect the office."
Cervone is hoping that GM's stance reflects the company's desire to find common ground on behalf of all Americans. "People are tired of things not getting done and instutions not finding common ground. There’s a role for all of us to play to get to common ground so that real solutions can be driven."
"We have more in common than not with the President-elect," he said. "We believe that this coming together of different groups to solve issues is really important."