LOS ANGELES -- American Suzuki's marketing boss, who promoted the company's vehicles on a shoestring budget, has left and will not be replaced, said a company spokesman.
Steve Younan, American Suzuki's director of product planning, marketing and sales training, left the automaker Jan. 20, according to Suzuki spokesman Jeff Holland.
Holland declined to comment on the nature of Younan's departure. He said Younan's responsibilities would be assumed by Chris White, Suzuki's director of sales.
Younan's departure came just weeks before the automaker's second Super Bowl commercial in as many years. Younan crafted Suzuki's strategy of using its Super Bowl spot as a regional ad in key markets in which Suzuki enjoys a strong presence.
The regional strategy helped Younan and Suzuki promote the brand with a small budget. Other marketing initiatives included Suzuki's "Kizashi Kicks" tour, a regional, event-based campaign designed to promote the Kizashi sport sedan.
Before joining Suzuki in 2006, Younan spent 10 years in product planning and marketing jobs at Nissan North America.
American Suzuki's U.S. sales plummeted from more than 100,000 units in 2007 to just 26,618 in 2011. Last year's sales were up 11 percent from 2010. Suzuki's U.S. sales dropped 41 percent in January, to 1,505.
The company's small size and its reliance on Japan-made models for its entire U.S. product lineup has made it vulnerable to the strong Japanese yen.