Michelle Cervantez Was Mercedes' Top Marketing Exec

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DETROIT ( -- Hyundai Motor America this afternoon announced from its Fountain Valley, Calif., headquarters that it has hired former Mercedes USA Vice President of Marketing Michelle Cervantez as its new vice president of marketing.

Mercedes USA's marketing chief has leaped to Hyundai.
Rumors and speculation
The announcement ended a day of rumors and speculation sparked by's report that an e-mail circulated this morning in Mercedes' Montvale, N.J., headquarters announced that Ms. Cerventez was departing that company, effective immediately.

Hyundai has been searching for a new marketing chief since earlier this year after Paul Sellers, who held that position for five years, moved laterally within the company to become executive director of national sales.

The Korean automaker spent $373 million in measured media last year, while Mercedes-Benz spent $177 million in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Hyundai's president-CEO, Robert F. Cosmai, in a statement today said Ms. Cervantez will be responsible for all Hyundai marketing and advertising in the U.S. She will report directly to Mr. Cosmai.

“We’re very excited to have Michelle join Hyundai," the statement said.

'Great momentum'
Ms. Cervantez, who has also served as vice president of marketing for Jaguar Cars North America before she went to Mercedes, in a statement said, “Hyundai is clearly a company with great momentum.”

She was selected again this year by the leading trade publication Automotive News as one of “100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry.” She holds a MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a BS in marketing from the University of Southern California.

Ms. Cervantez began her automotive career with Ford Motor Co., where she held a variety of positions including regional field operations, customer service and export operations as well as marketing positions with the Ford and Lincoln Mercury brands.

Only female Mercedes exec
Ms. Cervantez joined Mercedes USA in March 2003 from Ford . She was the only female vice president at the company's Montvale headquarters. In his e-mail to the Mercedes staff earlier today, CEO Paul Halata credited Ms. Cervantez with playing "an integral role in the growth of our company."

The e-mail did not name her successor, saying only that until her replacement is named, marketing, product management and research will report directly to Mr. Halata.

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