UPDATED: 5/2/14 12:51 pm ET - adds video, background
Dean Evans, who pushed Subaru of America into the world of digital marketing while its U.S. sales soared, has left after fewer than three years at the automaker.
Evans will pursue “other opportunities,” the automaker said in a statement today. Alan Bethke, vice president of marketing, will serve as interim head of the department “until the company announces its longer-term strategy to replace Evans.”
Evans, 45, joined Subaru in September 2011 and has been senior vice president and chief marketing officer. He had made his mark in the industry as chief marketing officer at Dealer.com and was also e-business director for Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin when they were part of Ford Motor Co.
“I loved the Subaru experience and am honored to have been part of the team,” Evans told Automotive News. “The entrepreneur in me must focus my main attention to different priorities and ventures now.”
Subaru is the only brand to increase U.S. sales in each of the past six years and has recorded double-digit increases in each of the past 16 months.
Evans reported to Subaru President Tom Doll.
"We wish Dean well as he pursues other opportunities," Doll said in the statement. "Dean brought strong digital talent to Subaru and leaves behind a strong bench within his group.”
In naming Evans one of its All-Stars for 2013, Automotive News said Evans had moved Subaru further into the digital world and social media, increasing sales and awareness of the brand in the process.
Evans has kept Subaru marketing targeted at buyers the brand called "experience seekers," Automotive News said.
He also was credited with incorporating more digital tools into the mix without rewriting the brand's underlying strategy.
Last year, Subaru spent 25 percent of its marketing budget on the Internet and social media, up from 15 percent two years earlier.
In that span, Internet leads quadrupled, and the closing ratio -- the percentage of leads that result in sales -- jumped 50 percent.
One of Subaru’s most recent commercials, “They Lived,” is a departure from the automaker’s usual upbeat spots. It was inspired by letters from families who survived car wrecks in their Subarus.
Subaru has set U.S. sales records for five consecutive years. Last year, sales jumped 26 percent to 424,683. Subaru said more than 60 percent of its customers in 2013 were new to the brand.
Through April of this year, Subaru sales are up 22 percent while the U.S. industry has risen 3 percent.