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Management Change Meant to Liven up Mercedes’ Marketing

Kallenius expected to push German maker back to top spot over rivals.

by on Sep.04, 2013

Ola Kallenius is charged with breathing new life into Mercedes' marketing efforts and lead it past BMW and Audi in sales.

Traditionally Daimler AG’s approach to marketing has been as aloof and austere as the cabin of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.

Oh sure they might have indulged their American branch with money for a Super Bowl ad, but by and large the approach, as one former Daimler executive noted, was “here it is the finest car in the world,” take it or leave it. If the customer left it, well, that was his or her problem.

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Mercedes-Benz also leaned heavily on the German pride in the three-pointed star emblem, but the power of the badge has eroded in recent years as rivals, such as BMW and Audi, have caught and passed the company in total sales. In addition, Mercedes-Benz has had to scramble for customers in China where the cachet of the three-pointed star hasn’t been quite as potent.

Daimler is now taking a step to acknowledge the new realities that prevail in the global car business by announcing that will put more focus on customers and markets as it implements the company’s strategies for growth. The new approach is also expected to make processes of the company’s major divisions faster and more flexible.

“We want to keep our fingers on the pulse of the market,” said Dieter Zetsche, Daimler AG’s chief executive officer.

“After the successful start of our product offensives for cars and commercial vehicles, we are now taking the next strategic step to achieve our growth targets. With the new structure we are getting even closer to our customers.”

As the company’s customer base grows increasingly diverse, more and more importance is now placed on the ability to precisely meet customers’ needs in each individual market.

“We will reduce complexity, become faster and more flexible, and will give our divisions comprehensive responsibility to manage their business efficiently and farsightedly,” Zetsche said. “This is not primarily a matter of cost advantages, but of more direct customer relations and of course of increasing our unit sales. In this way, we will strengthen the entire Daimler Group.”

Daimler also announced the retirement of a key marketing executive.

“After more than 34 years of service, and having reached his 65th birthday, Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president sales and marketing and part of the management team at Mercedes-Benz Cars, has decided to hand over his responsibilities to a younger pair of hands” effective Oct. 1.

Ola Kallenius, currently head of AMG, will replace Schmidt, who will remain available until the end of 2013 to support Kallenius in settling into his new role and to offer any advice and assistance.

Schmidt has served in various sales and marketing management roles and, since October 2009, has been a member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars with responsibility for sales and marketing.

(Daimler redoubles efforts to make up ground in China. For more, Click Here.)

Under Schmidt’s watch, the Mercedes-Benz brand tapped into important new growth regions and made huge progress in quality and customer satisfaction. He played a central role in the greatest strategic product initiative in the company’s history and helped open up Mercedes-Benz to new, younger target groups, Zetsche said.

Kallenius has comprehensive knowledge of the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio and the Daimler sales structures, not least thanks to his role as Chairman of the Management Board of Mercedes-AMG.

(Click Here to see why the Mercedes ML is the ideal vehicle.)

“With Ola Kallenius we have someone with cars in his blood taking over the reins,” said Zetsche. “He knows what makes a brand a success and has in depth knowledge of our customers and our organization. We have him to thank for the fact that in recent years AMG has achieved double-digit growth rates and has significantly increased its market leadership in many markets. I am happy he has accepted this position.”

The 44-year-old Kallenius has been Chairman of the Management Board of Mercedes-AMG since April 1st, 2010. Before that, he was plant manager at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Tuscaloosa (USA), led Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth, UK, and worked at McLaren Automotive.

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One Response to “Management Change Meant to Liven up Mercedes’ Marketing”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    Most Mercedes buyers are from “old money”. The profilers are buying BMW and Audi models primarily because they want people to think they have money or that they are a success. Mercedes isn’t losing sales, BMW and Audi are increasing sales to those who lack the means or understanding to own a Mercedes.

    While BMW and Audi makes some good cars, their sales are primarily to status conscious people who need to impress their friends. Those who really are a success buy Porsches and Mercedes. Even Janis Joplin knew this…