The next marketing chief will be Land Rover's sixth in the U.S. since 1987, when the company started selling its sports-utility vehicles here.
Bob Lierle resigned as general marketing manager, a position in which he oversaw an annual ad budget of about $25 million, in August. He had held the job nearly three years, joining Land Rover in December 1994 from Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., where he was VP-management supervisor on General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet truck advertising.
Rover's revolving marketing door is linked by executives and dealers close to the company to the hands-on management style of President Charlie Hughes.
Mr. Hughes' background is steeped in marketing, including stints at New York agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, GM's Cadillac division, Fiat/Ferrari/Lancia and Porsche/Audi/Volkswagen.
"The problem is Charlie is the de facto marketing guy," said an executive close to the company. A second executive agreed, saying Mr. Hughes "is a marketing guy and it's very difficult for the marketing people to work with him."
Mr. Hughes said the turnover isn't remarkable but that the downside of talented people is they move on.
'RESPECTING' HIS EXECS
"I go out of my way to pick people whom I really respect and can do the job without me looking over their shoulder,"*he said. "It doesn't mean I don't get involved."
Grace & Rothschild, New York, has been Land Rover's shop since mid-1986, just months after opening its doors with no clients. Agency Exec VP Chip Sleeper, who works on the account, described the relationship as stable and said the client's staff changes haven't affected the shop.
"Things are running very smoothly," he said.
Mr. Sleeper doesn't believe Land Rover's top marketing post changes demonstrate an unusual turnover.
"Charlie is a brilliant guy, and I think he has pretty firm control over what goes on there from a marketing standpoint," Mr. Sleeper said, adding that Mr. Hughes "gives [marketing] people there plenty of autonomy."
Even though Land Rover has gone through five U.S. marketing chiefs in 10 years, most have stayed with the U.K.-based carmaker.
OVERSEEING MARKETING DEPT.
Roger Ball, Land Rover's first marketing chief, is overseeing the marketing department until Mr. Lierle's replacement is found. Mr. Ball was recently recalled to headquarters in Lanham, Md., from Mexico, where he last year introduced Land Rover and headed the carmaker's Mexican operation.
Mr. Ball, a 26-year Rover veteran, was out of the country last week and couldn't be reached for comment.
Mr. Ball's successors in the top marketing post were: Russell Turnam, from 1989 to '93, when he returned to the U.K. to work for parent; Ken McGraw, from 1993 to August 1994, when he became a Land Rover dealer; and Monica Quagliotti, from August to December 1994, when she became a zone manager.
Before Mr. Lierle departed, he reorganized the marketing department, adding two new managers-Christopher Marchand and Kim McCullough-who are responsible for vehicle development and advertising for their specific models.
Land Rover, which sells only sport-utilities, posted a 10.7% rise in unit sales through August to 16,082 vs. a year ago. But the company faces increased competition in the upscale sport-utility segment from newcomers like Mercedes-Benz of North America's M-Class and Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln Navigator.
Mr. Hughes said the marketing job will be filled from within the Land Rover organization.
One of the executives close to the company said Land Rover is unlikely to use a headhunter and that if the car marketer had planned to hire someone from inside,