In a clandestine move generally reserved for employees working on top-secret government projects, Liz Vanzura, high-profile marketing and advertising director for Volkswagen of America, literally disappeared from the roster at VWoA. No press releases, no fanfare - just a hasty departure sometime around the Christmas holiday period.
Rumor has it that a clash of strong personalities involving Vanzura and upper management lead to an agreement to disagree.
Reached at her home, she noted, without malice, that she was 'unable at this time to comment on the issues surrounding my departure from VWoA.' She would neither confirm nor deny rumors that she'll land at GM in the near future, noting that 'no decision has been made' as to where she will go next.
Vanzura was a superstar during her nearly four years as VW's ad director. She arrived early in 1997, about a year before the New Beetle went on sale. The new Bug, helped by award-winning creative advertising by Arnold Communications in Boston, helped VW sales rise from 137,885 in 1997 to 355,479 last year. Vanzura got much of the credit.
Bright and outspoken, the Harvard MBA cites 'leading the team that reinvigorated the VW brand with a clear vision in the U.S. and Canada and launching the New Beetle' as two career highlights. She was one of Automotive News' 100 Leading Women in the auto industry last year.
Vanzura is a veteran marketer who began her career at GM. Assignments there included product planner at GMC Truck and assistant brand manager for the Pontiac Sunfire.
VW's official word on the departure, issued through the public relations department, was simply that Vanzura 'left to spend more time with her children.'
VWoA Advertising Manager Karen Swartz has temporarily taken over Vanzura's duties, a spokesman said.