New Ford CEO Jim Farley makes CMO switch on his first day on the job
New Ford CEO Jim Farley is making a change at the top of the automaker’s marketing department on his first day on the job as part of a larger management overhaul. Joy Falotico, chief marketing officer since 2018, will step down from the role to focus on her other job leading the company’s Lincoln brand.
Ford said it would name a new CMO “shortly.” A spokesman confirmed to Ad Age that the automaker would be hiring someone from outside the company but declined to give more details.
Farley, who assumes the CEO role today after serving as chief operating officer, is known to take an intense interest in the company’s marketing. He has a marketing background, joining the company in 2007 as group VP for marketing and communications. He was known to be influential in overhauling Ford’s agency relationships in 2018 when the company demoted WPP’s longtime dedicated Ford shop, GTB, while bringing on BBDO and Wieden+Kennedy. W+K has since won the majority of the most prestigious assignments in the U.S., including a new campaign with a patriotic bent called “Built for America” that touts its U.S. manufacturing footprint.
By installing a dedicated CMO—without a shared title like Falotico had—Farley is signaling he wants to give more heft to the role. Falotico came to the job without much marketing experience, having previously served as CEO of Ford Credit.
In a statement today, Ford said Falotico would now be “dedicated solely to further growing Ford’s luxury brand [Lincoln].”
The CMO change is “evidence that [Farley] is looking to significantly change and improve Ford’s marketing and will likely take inspiration from outside the category,” said a former Ford ad agency executive. If Ford does tap a CMO from outside automotive it would mark a rarity in the industry—more often than not automakers promote marketing leaders from within the category.
The CMO change is part of a broader management overhaul orchestrated by Farley that includes promoting John Lawler, the head of Ford's autonomous vehicle company, to the chief financial officer role. He replaces Tim Stone, who is stepping down after only a year and a half in the position to take a new role at an artificial intelligence company.
Farley worked closely with Lawler in recent years when Farley was head of new businesses, technology and strategy. Both spent considerable time in Silicon Valley picking the brains of tech leaders to help shape Ford's future.
Ford also announced a pair of retirements: Jeff Lemmer, chief information officer, will retire January 1, and Dale Wishnousky, VP of manufacturing for Ford of Europe, will also retire at the end of the year.
Kieran Cahill, previously Ford of Europe's director, manufacturing and strategic projects, will succeed Wishnousky, effective immediately. Ford said it would name a new CIO soon.
Automotive News contributed to this report.