DETROIT -- Ford has picked Matt VanDyke as its new vice president of marketing in Europe. VanDyke, who leads sales and marketing at fast-rising Ford luxury brand Lincoln, will replace Gaetano Thorel, according to a memo employees received Monday. Thorel has decided to leave the company after four years as Ford of Europe's marketing chief.
VanDyke will leave Lincoln this summer, three people with knowledge of the move told Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News.
VanDyke has been director of global Lincoln since November 2012. Since then, Lincoln has become one of the fastest-growing automotive brands in the U.S. on the strength of a revamped product lineup and commercials featuring idiosyncratic actor Matthew McConaughey that gained traction after parodies by U.S. comedy show “Saturday Night Live” and U.S. talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
VanDyke also worked to separate the brand more from Ford, adopting the name “Lincoln Motor Co.”
Lincoln’s U.S. sales are up 15 percent so far in 2016, even before the new Continental sedan arrives later this year.
VanDyke will work for Ford of Europe President Jim Farley, who had initiated the discussions with McConaughey while working as Ford’s chief marketing officer. VanDyke then helped turn that into an ongoing, multiyear relationship with McConaughey, a longtime Lincoln customer, and he embraced the numerous parodies as helping the brand rebuild consumer awareness.