Chrysler refits brand teams

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DaimlerChrysler's troubled Chrysler Group is restructuring its marketing organization. Marketing communications directors and managers at Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep will now develop total brand plans, including pricing and incentives. Until now, they spent most of their time on ad strategy.

The system is similar to that of Ford Motor Co. and driven by George Murphy, who joined Chrysler in February from Ford as senior VP-global brand marketing. He said he's not sure if he'll rename the managers' positions brand managers. The move, he said, will free up Tom Marinelli and Jim Julow, VPs of the Chrysler-Jeep and Dodge global brand centers, respectively, to be more product focused.

Each of Chrysler's five new regions will also have marketing specialists by brand.

The changes come in the wake of two more Ford marketers joining Chrysler Group. Jeffrey Bell, former director-retail marketing and e-business at Ford, is now VP-marketing communications, a new post reporting to Mr. Murphy, the former general marketing manager of Ford Division. Reporting to Mr. Bell are Jim Yetter, Gerald Wayman and Jay Kuhnie, the marketing communications directors at Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler, respectively. Although each of the three brands had these directors, until now there has been no umbrella structure.

Mr. Bell will be the main contact with Omnicom Group's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich. Before Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep worked separately with the agency.

Mr. Murphy called the changes "a cultural shift" for Chrysler Group.

Julie Roehm, 30, becomes director-marketing communications for the three brands, reporting to Mr. Bell. She had most recently been Ford Division's car marketing communications manager. Before that, she led the successful 1999 U.S. launch of the Ford Focus small car as brand manager.

DaimlerChrysler recently reported Chrysler Group lost $1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2001. Dodge car and trucks sales slid by 18% to 443,557 vehicles in the first four months of the year vs. the same period a year ago, according to Automotive News. Chrysler brand sales rose 16.7% in the period to 184,333 units, while Jeep sales decreased 14.5% to 139,012 units.

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