Mr. Bell, vacationing with his family in Europe, declined to comment on his departure via an e-mail to Advertising Age, other than to write, "I am the happiest I have ever been in my life."
Microsoft declined to comment.
Edgy advertising from BBDO
The Oklahoma City native joined Chrysler from Ford Motor Co. in spring 2001 as VP-marketing communications, overseeing advertising for the Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler brands. He wasted no time shaking up the status quo, calling a review for urban marketing and pressuring BBDO, Troy, Mich., to change its game. BBDO's edgy advertising pushed the envelope on creative too far in some cases, which led to several TV commercials being pulled or changed.
Mr. Bell's strongest legacy may be as a strong and early supporter of new marketing with his moves into video gaming and online. Mr. Bell was part of the team that led Advertising Age to name the automaker its first Online Marketer of the Year last fall. His other well-known colleague at the automaker, Julie Roehm, left earlier this year to join Wal-Mart as senior VP-marketing.
During his stint at Chrysler, Mr. Bell held other key executive jobs, including VP of Jeep and Chrysler before shifting to his current position in February.
He joined Ford's new-business development group in 1991 from Dover Group, a financial services company in Philadelphia. He received his MBA in finance and marketing from Wharton in 1989 a year after getting his Master's in international relations and economics at John Hopkins. His jobs at Ford included product and marketing manager of large cars (1994-1996); general manager-fleet rental and leasing at Ford of Europe (1997) and managing director of Ford Spain (1999).