Klaus Fricke, the former Smart sales and marketing director who helped turn the minicar brand around, has moved to Fiat Auto S.p.A.
As director of market strategy, a new position, Fricke is responsible for the strategic planning and brand positioning of Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo worldwide.
The 48-year-old manager led a marketing and image campaign that sharply increased Smart sales after a slow launch and made DaimlerChrysler's tiny two-seater more appealing to customers. In many European markets, and especially in Italy, the Smart developed into a fashionable car, seriously challenging Fiat's dominant home market position in the small-car segment.
Fricke reports to Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz, Fiat Group board member for sales and marketing. Since joining Fiat last year, Diaz Ruiz has restructured the Fiat marketing and sales organization.
Fricke's immediate attention will be on brand management by creating a brand guide and clearly defining and strengthening each brand's identity. Because Fiat platforms in the future will be shared with General Motors' Opel and Vauxhall-branded products, marketing strategy will become increasingly important.