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Tony Cervone Named New PR Chief at GM

Rejoins Detroit maker at critical time.

by on May.19, 2014

GM PR vet Tony Cervone will return to the company as its new communications chief.

Tony Cervone will rejoin General Motors as the maker’s new director of global communications.

It marks a return to Detroit for the 51-year-old PR veteran who previously served as a senior communications executive at both GM and Chrysler before temporarily shifting to the aerospace industry. Cervone was, until last week, the head of communications for Volkswagen Group of America.

His decision to return to GM comes as the maker faces its biggest challenge since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, with a number of investigations underway probing its handling of defective ignition switches linked to 13 deaths.

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“Tony brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that complements a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry,” said GM CEO Mary Barra, who personally made the decision to bring back Cervone. “I’ve worked with Tony in the past and he has my trust and respect. I know he’ll be another catalyst for change on our leadership team.”

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Former GM PR Exec Cervone Joins Volkswagen

Will head German maker’s American communications team.

by on Mar.21, 2011

Tony Cervone goes from GM to United and now to Volkswagen.

Tony Cervone, a veteran hand at automotive public relations, will take over responsibility for communications for Volkswagen Group in North America.

As Executive Vice President, Group Communications, Cervone will play a major role in shaping the German automaker’s image in the Americas at a time when VW intends to achieve some major growth.

Cervone, whose career has included long stints at Chrysler and General Motors, will report directly to Jonathan Browning, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, and will be a member of the company executive management team.  Cervone’s appointment is effective immediately.

“I welcome Tony to our management team. In his 24 years in automotive communications, Tony has continually demonstrated communications leadership in this industry.  I believe he will be a critical member of the team and will help drive the aggressive growth goals we are facing,” said Browning, who took over the VW Group position last year.

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In his new role, Cervone will be responsible for all aspects of corporate communications.  This includes corporate media relations, all public relations campaigns, community partnerships and philanthropy.

It is a critical time for Volkswagen.  The maker has been growing fast and has set a goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018.  But it continues to struggle in the U.S., where it has yet to match the peak sales volumes of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  The goal is to reach a new record of 800,000 sales by 2018 – and that will require hitting a number of critical marques.

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Sproule Says Sayonara to Nissan

PR chief taking top flak spot at Microsoft

by on Feb.10, 2009

Sayonara Tokyo, hello Seattle

Sayonara Tokyo, hello Seattle

One of the youngest and well-respected PR chiefs in the auto industry is moving on. Just days after Nissan Motor Co. reported a massive loss and revealed plans to slash jobs around the world, Simon Sproule has announced he will be among those leaving the troubled Asian maker – in this case voluntarily. Sproule will become vice president and global public relations chief at Seattle-based Microsoft Corp., starting March 2nd.

“A big brand like that comes along for someone like me only once in a lifetime,” said Sproule, talking to TheDetroitBureau.com from the offices, in Tokyo, which he will officially vacate on February 27th.

So far, no word on who will replace him at Nissan. But the British-born media relations executive responded with a stern, “no,” when asked if his departure had anything to do with the announcement, on Monday, that Nissan would go billions of dollars into the red for the fiscal year ending March 31st, triggering 20,000 job cuts worldwide. Sproule said he had already signed up with Microsoft before the bad news became apparent.

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GM Loses Key PR Exec

Likely heir apparent Tony Cervone instead departs for UAL.

by on Feb.05, 2009

Gone to Chicago, GM PR's #2, Tony Cervone

Gone to Chicago, GM PR's #2, Tony Cervone

He seemed the most likely heir to the coveted PR throne at General Motors Corp., but instead, 46-year-old Tony Cervone is decamping from Detroit and heading over to Chicago, where he’ll become chief communications officer and senior vice president of UAL Corp., the parent of United Airlines.

Why, well Cervone isn’t saying publicly. But there are plenty of reasons to speculate. Certainly, there’s a big opportunity in the Windy City, both as a great place to live, and also to take on a good job at an airline that’s already gone through its financial meltdown and is now showing signs of recovery.

As second-in-command to Steve Harris – who himself came out of retirement for a limited turn as GM’s media relations boss – Cervone was generally perceived to be the man in line for the top job. And there was little to indicate he’d fallen out of favor with CEO Rick Wagoner, who would have to sign off on Harris’s eventual replacement.

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