VW Marketer Shaping Comeback Attempt Leaves for Toyota

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Vinay Shahani.
Vinay Shahani. Credit: Toyota

Vinay Shahani, who helped shape Volkswagen's messaging in the wake of the automaker's emissions scandal, is leaving for Toyota.

Shahani, who was VW of America's senior VP-marketing, will take over as Toyota Motor North America's VP for integrated marketing operations, overseeing media strategy, digital and social media, vehicle incentive strategy, motorsports, engagement marketing, auto shows and other consumer events throughout the U.S. He fills a position formerly held by Ed Laukes, who in March was promoted to VP for Toyota division marketing. Shahani will report to Laukes.

Gregory Tebbutt, VW of America's senior director for marketing transformation, strategy and communications, will oversee the marketing team until a successor for Shahani is identified, a VW spokeswoman said.

At VW, Shahani took a leading role in crafting a new marketing approach as the automaker tried to put the emissions scandal in the rearview mirror and adopt a family-friendly ad approach for its expanded lineup of larger vehicles, including the just-introduced Atlas seven-passenger crossover.

VW had been known for pushing diesel vehicles with environmentally friendly messaging. But that approach looked hypocritical in late 2015 after it was revealed that the automaker had used so-called defeat devices to evade exhaust emissions testing covering an estimated 11 million vehicles worldwide.

VW's newest campaign for the Atlas leans heavy on emotion with ads that feature a widow fulfilling the wish of her husband by traveling the country with her family. Toyota's "Let's Go Places" campaign also goes for an emotional connection.

VW's lead creative ad agency is Deutsch L.A. Saatchi & Saatchi L.A. handles Toyota in the U.S.

Shahani joined Volkswagen in late 2013 after a nine-year stint at Nissan North America, where he held various sales and marketing jobs.

"Vinay brings fresh perspective to Toyota that is complemented with his marketing background and cross-functional experience in the automotive industry," Laukes said in a statement. "We are eager to have him on the team, and look forward to his contributions as we transition to our new home in Plano (Texas)."

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