BRUSSELS - Adam Opel AG has hired a former DaimlerChrysler marketing executive to fill a new brand director position on its management board.
Alain Uyttenhoven, 38, began the job on November 1. He was previously head of product marketing and management for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, where he had worked for 10 years.
Uyttenhoven will take over brand management responsibilities from Robert Hendry, who put a new emphasis on brands at the General Motors unit when he became chairman a year ago.
In an interview earlier this year, Hendry said creating a brand image isn't about 'smoke and mirrors and creating nice advertising.'
To improve Opel's brand strategy, Hendry announced plans last March to create the new board position.
'Your image is your foundation,' he said. 'It's about your product and your position. It's about how you advertise and what your dealers look like. It's about how people are treated. How we structure ourselves as the company Opel is what the new brand director is all about.'
Hendry is patterning Opel's efforts on GM's brand strategy in North Ame-rica, where the auto industry has not been the benchmark. 'The industries that have done it best are on the retail side, whether it's Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola or, in Europe, Absolut (vodka),' he said.
Opel has suffered from slumping sales, quality problems and unexciting vehicles. Opel has been trying to boost its image by launching niche vehicles such as the Zafira compact minivan, with its flexible seating system. More image cars are in the pipeline, including the Speedster sports car and Astra coupe and convertible.
'You don't get your reputation from your volume products,' he said.
Uyttenhoven is the 11th member of the Opel management board. But the number of board members may held at 10 under a restructuring that sources say is planned for sales and marketing operations.
The changes may include eliminating the board's sales and marketing post and putting those duties in the hands of the brand director. The sales and marketing job has been vacant since mid-September when Christian Grupe left this job due to illness.