Subaru's New CMO Is a Familiar Face

Tim Mahoney Was Part of Team That Revitalized Company a Decade Ago

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DETROIT ( -- Tim Mahoney is rejoining Subaru of America in the new position of senior VP-marketing and chief marketing officer beginning June 26.
Tim Mahoney was part of the team that reinvigorated the Subaru product line in the mid-1990s. Now he's back as CMO.
Tim Mahoney was part of the team that reinvigorated the Subaru product line in the mid-1990s. Now he's back as CMO.

Was at Porsche
Mr. Mahoney has spent the last seven years as general marketing manager of Porsche Cars North America, overseeing advertising, product planning, promotions, events, research and brand merchandising. He originally joined Subaru in 1984 and was part of the team that roused Subaru from near-death in the mid-1990s by focusing on the brand's all-wheel-drive capabilities with ads (from agency Temerlin McClain, Dallas) that featured Australian actor Paul Hogan.

"They say you can never go home again, but part of me never left Subaru," Mr. Mahoney told Advertising Age. Subaru "has great products and is a great brand."

Crosson returns to sales
At Subaru, he succeeds Rick Crosson, VP-marketing, who returns to sales as general manager of the Mid-Atlantic region, said executives close to the automaker. Mr. Crosson came from the same position in Colorado when he was tapped for the marketing job in early 2003.

Subaru declined to comment.

The move is the latest in a management shakeup at Subaru, and marks the automaker's fourth top marketer since 1999. In April, Subaru moved Bill Cyphers from VP-sales to the newly created job of VP-independent distributor relations. Mr. Cyphers, who joined Subaru in 1984 after a decade at Ford Motor Co. in sales and marketing jobs, had been VP-marketing at Subaru from 1999 to mid-2001. He was succeeded as VP-marketing by Isuzu veteran Mark Darling, who resigned in early 2003.

In late April, Subaru confirmed that Fred Adcock -- the company's exec VP-sales, marketing, planning, service and public relations -- resigned and would start June 1 at Nissan North America as regional VP in its Mid-Atlantic regions. Subaru at the time said it was actively looking to fill that position, and that Thomas Doll, exec VP-chief financial officer, and Hidetoshi Kobayashi, exec VP, would absorb his duties in the interim.

Pressure to meet goals
Mr. Adcock and Subaru's other American brass have been under pressure to meet aggressive sales goals set by Japanese parent Fuji Heavy Industries, executives close to the carmaker said.

Subaru missed its U.S. sales goal of 250,000 units by 2005 (set in 2001), and the Japanese parent has since scaled back targets. According to Automotive News, the company set a goal in June 2001 of 285,000 sales in the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2006, but that was later reset to 250,000. It has yet to reach that goal, despite posting three straight years of record U.S. vehicle sales. Subaru said its sales through April rose by 0.4% to 61,141 units vs. a year ago.

The marketer spent $145 million in measured media last year (compared to $159 million in 2004), according to TNS Media Intelligence. The company planned to have a flat ad budget this year, one executive said. But Subaru juiced its March ad outlay to $17 million, resulting in record sales for the month, and its Japanese parent last week approved $39.5 million more for marketing this year, two executives said.

Omnicom Group's DDB, New York, won Subaru's national creative and media-planning account in fall 2004 after a review.
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