Marketing shakeup under way at Chrysler

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Two new top marketing executives at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group are shaking things up.

Jim Schroer, exec VP-sales and marketing, and George Murphy, senior VP-global brand marketing, are putting the final touches on a reorganization that will, in the next few weeks, install brand managers for virtually each Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep car and truck. The two executives, formerly of Ford Motor Co., also hired at least four consultants-Arnell Group, Booz-Allen & Hamilton, Fusion 5 and SHR Perpetual Management-for help in branding, positioning, marketing and advertising strategies. Regional marketing managers will be overseeing ad plans in each of Chrysler's five new regional business centers. Booz-Allen is a former employer of both Mr. Schroer and Mr. Murphy.

Meanwhile, Omnicom Group's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., formed about five months ago, is stalled in trying to consolidate its Chrysler-dedicated sibling shops into its fold. Mike Vogel, chairman-CEO of PentaMark, conceded his restructuring has been delayed by changes at the client. "We don't want to reorganize and then be diametrically opposed to what the client has, so we're sort of in a holding pattern."

BBDO Worldwide, Troy, Mich., is already gone, integrated into PentaMark, which won Chrysler's consolidated global creative and media account last fall in a shootout with True North Communications' FCB Worldwide, Southfield, Mich. PentaMark hired and integrated a slew of former key FCB staff on the Jeep and Chrysler accounts. Still to come is the consolidation into PentaMark of marketing services' agency InterOne Marketing Group and media planner and buyer PentaCom.

While Mr. Vogel said he's not planning any layoffs, some top agency lieutenants took early retirement in recent weeks. Marty Levine, who left Chrysler as general manager of the Chrysler-Jeep Division for the agency in May 2000, resigned May 25. Mr. Levine realized "there really wasn't a place for him" in the proposed agency restructuring, Mr. Vogel explained.

Chrysler's Mr. Murphy said he met several times with John Wren, Omnicom's CEO, about the capabilities under the corporate umbrella. "How do you access all these capabilities when all you expect us to deal with is PentaMark if PentaMark is not really good at youth marketing or movie placements?" he asked. "You have to leverage more ideas, then fold them into PentaMark."

That's why he said his boss, Mr. Schroer, signed a multiyear contract with Fusion 5 as an idea factory to develop strategies for regional marketing plans and events and to figure out how to increase sales to Generation Y.

Patrick Meyer, president of Fusion 5, owned by Tempus, London, said he has 45 people on the Chrysler account. Among other things, they are working on 2002 brand plans with PentaMark.

There are other indications the firm is stepping on PentaMark's toes. Mr. Meyer said Fusion 5 doesn't get involved in media deals, but said "we looked at some media properties and said either the client or PentaMark should pursue it." Mr. Vogel, while admitting "you always worry about consultants," said the Fusion 5 folks are team players. "We will take a good idea from anywhere if it sells more cars."

Mr. Murphy, a member of PentaMark's board, maintained Fusion 5 will only develop strategies and PentaMark will execute them. But he had some criticism of PentaMark. He said the recent Jeep Liberty launch ads didn't hit all three of his targets for good advertising: cutting through the clutter, product information and creating an emotional bond.

He said another of the consultancies, SHR, is developing "image maps" to articulate brand personalities of Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler. "SHR is very good at that. That was something the agency never did-consumer philosophy."

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