Ford taps insiders as brand managers

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While GM enlists Ralcorp alum for new post

While Ford Motor Co. reached inside to tap five new brand managers, rival General Motors Corp. went outside the company--and its industry--to recruit a brand manager.

GM's Oldsmobile division is bringing on board Michael McEnaney, who had been exec VP-marketing at Ralcorp Holdings, the company formed when Ralston Purina Co. spun off its human-food products in 1994. Mr. McEnaney, 38, will be the brand manager for the Bravada sport-utility vehicle and the Silhouette minivan.

GM's first 29 brand managers, named in October, came from GM's ranks. But in addition to Mr. McEnaney, as many as five more outsiders may be brought in to help bring outside perspective to the revamp being directed by Ronald Zarrella, VP for North American sales, service and marketing.

The new Ford structure is generally similar to the one adopted by GM. Ford brand managers will work with the company's worldwide marketing plans unit, which will then work with five global vehicle development centers to design products. GM's brand managers work directly with a vehicle line executive, a top engineer who oversees product design.

Both Ford and GM studied package goods marketers such as Procter & Gamble Co. and copied some of their brand-building methods by giving a single executive responsibility for marketing issues such as pricing, incentives, advertising and promotion.

The idea is to "manage and build additional equity in our nameplate brands," said Robert Rewey, group VP in charge of Ford's worldwide sales and marketing.

Heavy competition and relative parity on product quality has made brand building increasingly important to automakers.

A more market-based approach means automakers like Ford are scrapping the old distinctions between cars and trucks.

Ford division's brand managers are organized by the way consumers shop rather than the way the company manufactures, said Ross Roberts, division VP-general manager.

For example, Randy Stewart, 40, is moving from truck ad manager to brand manager for youthful vehicles, a group that includes the Aspire, Escort, Contour and Ranger nameplates.

Under the revamp, there are no ad manager positions. Former Advertising Manager Gerry Donnelly takes the newly created position of marketing communications manager.

Mr. Donnelly will continue to manage the relationship with agency J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, while adding oversight of promotional activities and coordination of ad plans with the new brand managers.

Mr. Donnelly and the five brand managers report to Bobbie Gaunt, general marketing manager.

Charles Child of Automotive News contributed to this story.

Copyright December 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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