BMW North America Marketing Chief Jack Pitney Dies at 47

Automotive Veteran Led Recent 'Joy' Campaign, Relaunched Mini in U.S.

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NEW YORK ( -- Jack Pitney, VP-marketing for BMW of North America, died Aug. 26. He was 47.

Mr. Pitney oversaw marketing and product development for the BMW brand in the U.S. He was set to assume a new job as vice president for BMW's eastern region, the carmaker's largest U.S. sales zone, Automotive News reported, when he was killed Thursday. In a statement, BMW said that according to the Greene County, N.Y., sheriff's department, his tractor flipped and landed on him while he was trying to remove a tree stump on his farm in Durham, N.Y.

In an interview with Ad Age at the New York International Auto Show in April, Mr. Pitney talked about the brand's new "Joy" campaign from GSD&M, explaining how on a "global level as well as in the U.S., we're trying to make BMW a warmer, more accessible brand." He also discussed the brand equity of "The Ultimate Driving Machine" tagline, and how the "Joy" campaign wasn't designed to trump that, but to enhance it with "some humanity." He also spoke at Ad Age's 2006 Idea Conference, where he and GSD&M President Roy Spence played up the car company's uniqueness in the automotive industry as the only automaker that isn't part of some greater parent company and thus "purpose-driven."

Prior to his role as VP-marketing, Mr. Pitney was VP of Mini, where he was responsible for the brand's reintroduction to the U.S. Before joining BMW in 1995 as head of corporate communications, Mr. Pitney was manager of U.S. corporate communications for Mazda.

Mr. Pitney's career history included roles at public-relations firms such as Hill and Knowlton, Los Angeles, heading the Mazda account, and as VP at GCI Group, Los Angeles, where he oversaw the launch of Nissan's Infiniti division. He began his public relations career in New York, working for Ruder Finn Public Relations, Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos Advertising, and Bauer & Rosner Marketing Communications.

In a statement, BMW of North America President Jim O' Donnell called him a "creative powerhouse." He added, "Jack brought excitement and electricity to his work. And yes, he inspired those around him because of his infectious enthusiasm for BMW and his never-failing good humor. He leaves a great legacy here at BMW Group. His years in communications prepared him for his groundbreaking role launching Mini with a style we had never seen before. As head of BMW marketing, Jack personified the brand and the values that motivate us in this company. Being a true creative soul, Jack couldn't wait for the next challenge and I personally was looking forward to seeing the innovations he would bring to his new role in sales."

He is survived by his wife and five children.

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