DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co., seeking to boost demand for its lowest-volume brands, has named a marketing chief for Lincoln Mercury for the first time in almost two years.
C.J. O'Donnell, the new group marketing manager, comes from Jaguar. He was the U.K. brand's global marketing director since March 2007, when it was owned by Ford.
“This was done to put a better emphasis on Lincoln and the Lincoln marketing efforts,” said Robert Parker, a Ford spokesman.
Ford is attempting to energize its remaining luxury brand, following the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008 and this year's planned sale of Volvo. Lincoln's U.S sales have dropped by more than half in the past decade as U.S. consumers gravitated to German and Japanese rivals.
Ford executives have fielded questions about the viability of Mercury for years and insist the brand has a future.
The last time Lincoln Mercury had its own marketing chief was in the summer of 2008, Parker said. The move was effective May 1.
Previously, Amy Marentic, Ford's marketing manager for North American cars, handled much of Lincoln Mercury's car marketing as well as Ford division's car marketing, Parker said. Chantel Lenard, Ford's group marketing manager of small cars, handled the marketing of the Lincoln MKZ sedan, he said. They will retain their current duties with Ford division.
“So it was two people who had input into Lincoln; now it's all under C.J.'s domain,” Parker said.
In his new role, O'Donnell will lead the brands' marketing efforts to consumers as well as work directly with Derrick Kuzak, Ford's group vice president of global product development. O'Donnell will provide Kuzak and his team with dealer and consumer feedback and market research.
Reporting to Felice
O'Donnell will attend dealer committee meetings to work with the Lincoln Mercury dealers on product and marketing input for the brands, Parker said.
O'Donnell reports to John Felice, general marketing manager of Ford Lincoln Mercury.
Ford Division has been the biggest contributor to the automaker's U.S. sales advances this year. Sales of Ford-brand vehicles soared 36 percent through April in an industry that's gained 17 percent. Lincoln is up 19 percent, and Mercury is up 20 percent. The automaker tallies 8.48 Ford sales for each Lincoln Mercury delivery.