DETROIT -- Deborah Wahl Meyer will become vice president and chief marketing officer of Chrysler.
Meyer, 44, has spent the past six years with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and was most recently vice president of marketing for the Lexus division.
She will replace George Murphy, who resigned in May.
Deborah is a great addition to the leadership team, Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli said in a statement. She brings a proven track record of success to support our brands both in North America and internationally.
Meyers appointment comes during Nardellis first week heading Chrysler. New owner Cerberus Capital Management LP surprised the industry when it named him CEO on Aug. 6.
Meyer takes over a marketing department that has been in turmoil. Dealers had complained that Chrysler advertising was not doing a good enough job telling the product story of a bevy of new Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles launched in the past year.
Dealers didnt like ads
The dealers told former Chrysler CEO and now COO Tom LaSorda that the ads needed to be more focused. They singled out spots for the Dodge Nitro SUV, in particular.
One TV commercial showed a driver in a Nitro giving a jump-start to another vehicle. When the Nitro driver turns his ignition, the vehicle on the other end of the jumper cables blows sky high, returning to earth several seconds later with a bang. The commercial gave no information about what kind of vehicle the new Nitro was.
Another ad showed a Nitro falling into a hole and through the center of the earth to the other side. Again, dealers said the ad did not explain what the Nitro was all about.
Joe Eberhardt, who had been global sales and marketing chief, left the Chrysler group in December after dealers complained about his tactics in trying to get them to take more cars. LaSorda then assumed direct control of sales and marketing.
At the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in February, LaSorda promised dealers a more focused approach. Since then, all three brands have received major advertising tuneups.
Ad budget cuts likely
Advertising Age, a sister publication of Automotive News, reported last week that Nardelli is likely to cut advertising budgets, just as he did in his last job as CEO of Home Depot Inc.
Dealers have said Chrysler needs to spend more, not less, to promote its vehicles.
Meyer will report to Steven Landry, executive vice president of North American sales, global marketing, service and parts. She starts work Aug. 28.
In 2005, Meyer was named one of Automotive News 100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Industry.
You may e-mail Bradford Wernle at [email protected]