Jim Selwa, who hired GSD&M, Austin, Texas, just over a year ago, is leaving as VP-marketing at the sport utility marketer Jan. 15. One of his key lieutenants, Kim McCullough, general manager of marketing services, left Land Rover Jan. 5 to join Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., as senior VP-management supervisor on new business. Martin handles General Motors Corp.'s Saab.
Both cited personal reasons for their moves. Neither will relocate from Lanham, Md., to Irvine, Calif., where Land Rover's parent, Ford Motor Co., is centralizing North American headquarters for its upscale brands under the so-called Premier Automotive Group. The other brands, to start moving in June, are Jaguar Cars North America, Aston Martin, Volvo Cars of North America and Lincoln. Ford moved Lincoln and Mercury headquarters to Irvine in 1999 from Detroit, but Lincoln will move to Premier's larger building under construction nearby. Mainstream brand Mercury isn't part of Premier.
The Premier unit was formed in 1999 shortly after Ford hired Wolfgang Reitzle as its chairman from BMW AG. Mr. Reitzle is also chairman of Jaguar Cars Ltd., Coventry, England and Sweden's Volvo Cars. The chairman of Land Rover in England reports to Mr. Reitzle.
GSD&M TO LAUNCH NEXT PRODUCTS
Mr. Selwa dispelled speculation that Land Rover's agency, GSD&M would lose the $35-million account it won last March, two months before Ford closed its $2.7 billion purchase of Land Rover. "Ford has embraced GSD&M," he said. "GSD&M will be launching our next two products. We know that for sure."
He's referring to the brand's least expensive SUV, the Freelander, due for its U.S. launch this fall, and the replacement for the Range Rover in early 2002.
Speculation that GSD&M will lose the account stems from talk that Ford will initiate a global realignment of its agencies, which Jim Schroer, VP-marketing at Ford, has declined to discuss.
Ford tapped Y&R Advertising, London, as lead global agency for Land Rover's $75-million account in November after a review. But that account, at least for now, appears to be focused mainly in the U.K. and other European nations.
Ford shifted its European agency roster last November. The car marketer moved the entire $200 million Ford brand account in Europe from Y&R to Ogilvy & Mather, both London.
GSD&M is owned by Omnicom Group, while the majority of Ford accounts in the U.S. and abroad are held by agencies under WPP Group's umbrella-J. Walter Thompson Co., O&M and Y&R. WPP bought Y&R last October.
Because it has an office in Irvine that handles Lincoln and Mercury, Y&R would be in the right place to land Land Rover in the U.S..
Mr. Reitzle said "there is almost no overlap" among products and shoppers for Ford's Premier brands. In a speech last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, he said Ford won't "stretch one brand in order to grow and go into segments which don't really fit" with one of the Premier marques.
He said Premier plans to open as many individual, but clustered Premier-brand showrooms as possible. One dealer will own a cluster of showrooms; each showroom will have a dedicated sales staff. Premier is also considering selling "mobility packages" that for a flat fee, could provide one of the upscale vehicles anywhere in the world to travelers, he said.
Mark LaNeve, president of Volvo in North America, said his brand "gets zero cross-shopping" with other Premier brands even though in many cases the demographics and annual incomes are similar. He said the psychographpics differentiate Premier-brand buyers. "Our buyers are very import-oriented, more rational and family oriented, even though we're focusing more on performance." Jaguar buyers, he added, are much more upscale.
Volvo's agency, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, also isn't part of WPP. But Bob Austin, director of marketing communications at Volvo, said "Ford is very happy with the strength" of the agency's work for the brand.
Lincoln buyers have a mind-set "that transcends generations," said Jim O'Sullivan, group brand manager for the marque dubbed in advertising as "American luxury." His target buyers want luxury that is "genuine; not ostentatious [but] achievable.
Land Rover's Mr. Selwa said he'll return to his native Michigan to join industrialist Heinz Prechter as a partner at his ASC Inc., a major car sunroof and convertible maker and specialty vehicle manufacturer. Mr. Selwa joined Land Rover in summer 1999 from Lotus Cars USA, where he had been CEO. His ties to Mr. Prechter go back 15 years, when the industrialist funded Mr. Selwa's first marketing services agency, Marketing Network.
Ms. McCullough said relocating to Virginia will allow her to be close to her family. She joined Land Rover in 1997 from McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich., where she worked on GM's Buick account.
"All my family is in Detroit and all her [Ms. McCullough's] family is on the East Coast, so California wasn't in the cards for either of us," said Mr. Selwa.
Andrew Polcinelli will succeed Ms. McCullough. He joined Land Rover last summer as relationship marketing manager from Nissan North America, where he had been model line manager on the Xterra SUV.