A new generation of marketing executives, schooled at companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. and General Electric Co. will lead Ford Motor Co. in the Internet age.
Last week Ford lined up a fresh new marketing team, players marked by diversity of gender, ethnicity and career paths. Leading the group is Brian Kelley, 40, Ford's e-business whiz, who two years ago was overseeing appliance sales at General Electric.
On Friday, March 9, Kelley was named Ford vice president of global consumer services, replacing Robert Rewey, 62, a 38-year Ford veteran and a powerful representative of the old guard.
Kelley will be a pivotal voice as Ford grapples with blending old-world retailing with electronic-age technology. But don't look for a retail revolution, Kelley said.
'You will continue to see evolution,' Kelley said. 'The retail business in the automotive industry works as well as it does because it has been honed over 100 years. Of course, it can get better. But you won't see revolution, because the consumer today is generally pleased with how they are buying vehicles.'
Kelley inherits Rewey's portfolio, with one notable exception. Operations of the Ford brand in North America reported to Rewey. Now Martin Inglis, head of the Ford brand in North America, reports to CEO Jacques Nasser.
Kelley's turf includes global marketing, the automotive consumer service group, dealer development, worldwide direct markets, Ford racing technology and ConsumerConnect.
Kelley, who worked at General Electric and Procter & Gamble before joining Ford, represents the diverse breed of managers hired by Nasser. New additions to the list include:
Karen Francis, a Procter & Gamble alumna, named last week to replace Kelley as president of ConsumerConnect, Ford's global unit for all e-commerce strategies. Francis, 38, also named a Ford vice president, is a former Oldsmobile general manager who left GM last year for Internet Capital Group, an e-commerce company.
Jan Klug, 41, named vice president of global marketing on March 1. Klug's accounts at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, included Hallmark Cards, Oldsmobile and McDonald's Corp. She joined Ford as Ford Division marketing communications manager in June 1998.
Francisco Codina, 49, named Ford Division general marketing manager last week. The Cuban-born executive joined Ford in 1977, working most recently as president of Ford Argentina.
The new crop of Ford marketers differs markedly from their predecessors, predominantly white men who moved from region to region within the United States, shaking hands with dealers and learning the business from the showroom floor up.
Since the late 1990s, Nasser has taken a sledgehammer to Ford's insular culture. He has hired executives from competitors such as DaimlerChrysler and BMW AG and from nonautomotive companies such as Whirlpool Corp. and Reebok International.
As Ford's new head of global marketing, Kelley said he would work to repair fractured relations with dealers, find fresh ways to communicate with customers and help retailers increase service business.
'The first thing is making sure that our dealer relationships are strong,' Kelley said. 'That is critical. That is a key role I will focus on.'
Kelley will begin getting-to-know-you sessions with key dealers worldwide. The company's relations with its retailers are rockiest in the United States, where dealers have opposed retailing certification programs and factory-owned stores.
He described himself as 'a strong supporter' of Ford Division's Blue Oval dealer certification, a program some dealers are challenging legally.
Kelley will report to Nasser, bringing to 16 the number of Nasser's direct reports.
North American Ford brand automotive operations now mirror the structure in Ford of Europe and the Premier Automotive Group, where top executives report to Nasser.
Having Inglis, who is responsible for all Ford brand operations in the United States, Mexico and Canada, report to Nasser underscores the autonomy of Ford's automotive business groups.