The move reflects the automaker's corporate global mantra of kaizen, or continuous improvement, as Toyota aims to expand its footprint in America.
Steve Sturm, 55, takes the post of group VP-strategic research, planning and corporate communications, joining Toyota's New York holding company, TMA, from Toyota Motor Sales USA in Torrance, Calif., where he had been VP-planning in North America. In his new role, Mr. Sturm will be responsible for corporate advertising, marketing communications, media, corporate strategy and planning, as well as strategic and image research across the Americas.
Boosting image in U.S.
Mr. Sturm, a native New Yorker, told Advertising Age that an important part of his job will be corporate-image research on "how we play to the American public" and develop the best messaging. His team will be analyzing Toyota's strengths and weaknesses to fashion the right corporate messages here to boost its image. Dentsu America, New York, handles TMA's account.
Patricia Salas Pineda had been the group VP overseeing corporate communications, human resources and general counsel. She remains general counsel and adds the title of group VP-philanthropy and administration.
Toyota Motor Sales USA announced its 2006 U.S. sales yesterday, reporting its best U.S. year of 2.54 million units sold, or nearly 13% better than 2005. That was enough to pass DaimlerChrysler in the U.S. by a mere 152,000 units to capture the sales crown as the nation's No. 3 automaker.
Although DaimlerChrysler said its Mercedes-Benz USA unit posted its best U.S. year with 248,080 units sold in 2006, its Chrysler Group arm saw its 2006 sales slide 7% to 2.14 million.
Mr. Sturm joined Toyota in 1981 and has a background in marketing. He served as VP-marketing for Toyota Division from 1999 through 2002 and had a prior stint as corporate-marketing manager for Lexus. Before joining Toyota, he was a marketing manager for Hunt-Wesson foods and a product manager for Standard Brands.