Mercedes' new top marketer plans major brand campaign

One of the first priorities for Mercedes' new top marketing exec is to bring on a big brand campaign.

Dave Schembri was appointed vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA Inc. on Wednesday, Aug. 15. He replaces Ken Enders, 41, who 'left the company to pursue other interests,' according to a company statement.

Schembri, 48, had been one of two co-equal vice presidents of sales reporting to CEO Paul Halata, handling the West and Southeast regions.

Though Schembri insisted Enders was not fired, the move comes at a time when rival BMW of North America Inc. is outselling Mercedes.

Mercedes' U.S. sales were up 0.6 percent for the first seven months of this year to 116,373, while BMW's U.S. sales were up 21.5 percent to 126,303. Mercedes outsold BMW last year.

Schembri said he will not conduct an advertising agency review, 'but you could look for another big (brand) campaign' from Mercedes' ad agency, Merkley Newman Harty in New York. 'I'm not sure exactly when. We'll be great again.'

Schembri joined Mercedes in 1994. He was general manager of the New York and, later, Los Angeles regions, where he oversaw retail operations for the dealers. He was named a vice president in July 2000.

David Levy chairman of Mercedes' national dealer council, said Schembri's knowledge of the retail business will help Mercedes improve its national strategy.

'He's extremely enthusiastic and competent,' Levy said. 'He told me his first order of business will be to formulate a retail strategy for the upcoming year and to find holes in what has not been successful. I'd like to see significantly greater (advertising) frequency and messages that are more comprehensive of the entire brand, from the S class through the C230.'

Keith May, who handled the Midwest and Northeast sales regions for Mercedes, now becomes sole vice president of sales.

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