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Industry Vet Tom Kowaleski Unexpectedly Passes at 63

Influential PR exec had broad career, broader interests.

by on Jan.21, 2015

Tom Kowaleski during a 1999 trip to Beijing to show off GM's then-new assembly plant.

The auto industry lost one of its most able and experienced executives this week. Tom Kowaleski, a long-standing PR and Communications guru with an unparalleled track record of success, died January 20, 2015, suddenly and unexpectedly, while hiking near his Scottsdale, Arizona, winter home.  He was 63.

An automotive and motor racing enthusiast through and through, Tom started his career with Renault in the 1970s in the United States, then progressed through increasingly senior positions at Campbell & Company (then Ford’s racing PR agency) before joining Chrysler, General Motors and BMW.

He quickly moved up the communications and marketing ranks at each. During the 1990s he masterminded – with scant substance to support the premise – the rebranding of Chrysler as a progressive and exciting automotive brand both in North America and Europe.

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Update: Former Caddy Boss LaNeve Links up with Ford

Will head maker’s Team Detroit ad agency.

by on Jul.31, 2012

Mark LaNeve during his tenure as GM's North American sales, service and marketing chief.

TheDetroitBureau.com has updated its original report:

Mark LaNeve, the ever-quotable former Cadillac boss and marketing chief at General Motors is back in Motown, but this time he’s hanging his hat at Team Detroit, the ad agency for GM’s cross-town rival Ford Motor Co.

The plain-talking native of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania led Cadillac during its nascent renaissance, nearly a decade ago, before moving up to the corporate suites as the head of GM marketing.  He left the maker as it plunged into bankruptcy.

Plug In on Auto News!

In his new job LaNeve will be the agency chief for the massive Ford account as chief operating officer for Motor City-based Team Detroit.  The unit brings together a wide array of global assets from WPP LLC, the giant ad conglomerate itself based in London.  LaNeve, in turn, will be the ad-side liaison working with Ford’s global marketing chief Jim Farley.

With both determined to amp up Ford’s marketing efforts, the move could see the maker engage in what one executive described as “bloodlust marketing” in a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com.

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