DETROIT -- DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz USA has named Michelle Cervantez a new vice president of marketing.
Cervantez will succeed Dave Schembri, who will now oversee the automaker's Starmark certified used-car unit. Cervantez had been manager of cross-brand strategy at Ford Motor Co. since last May. Her prior job had been vice president of marketing at Ford's Jaguar Cars North America.
Advertising Age, a sister publication to Automotive News, reported that Mercedes-Benz USA spent $115 million in measured media in the first 11 months of 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Omnicom Group's Merkley Newman Harty, New York, handles the carmakers advertising account.
Cervantez takes over marketing duties at a time when Mercedes-Benz has been moving its brand downstream in recent years, a move some industry analysts have criticized. In an effort to increase car sales and attract younger buyers, the automaker launched the C230 sports coupe in 2001 with a base price of under $26,000.
The brand increased sales last year to 213,225 units, a 3.2% increase from 2001, when it sold 206,638 vehicles.
The marketer's vehicle long-term reliability rating slipped last fall. Mercedes-Benz dipped to below the industry average in a survey of owners of 1998 models last fall by consultancy J.D. Power and Associates. The consultancy's so-called Vehicle Dependability Index study ranked Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus brand tops for the eighth consecutive year.