Chrysler Faces Marketing Challenges
Chrysler is in the process of rebuilding its marketing team after the departure or reassignment of top executives. In the latest move, the company announced that Jeff Bell, vice president of global Chrysler and Jeep marketing, will leave that post Feb. 1 to become vice president of product strategy. His departure comes close on the heels of last week’s news that Julie Roehm, Chrysler's director of marketing communications, was leaving the company to join Wal-Mart. In addition, the job of Dodge vice president for marketing and product planning remains vacant after the departure of Steven Landry last fall to head DaimlerChrysler Canada. Chrysler has not announced who will fill the marketing jobs. The changes come at the start of a critical year for several Chrysler brands. For example, Jeep will expand from its rugged SUV roots into car-based vehicles with the launch of the 2007 Jeep Compass crossover in late summer. The Jeep Patriot five-door hatchback will arrive this fall. Jeep marketers will have to attract buyers to the new Jeeps without alienating the brand's hard-core SUV fans. Also, Dodge this year expands within Europe: the Dodge Caliber hatchback and the Dodge Nitro SUV go on sale in the first half of 2006. Chrysler says international sales are vital to its strategy of profitable growth.