Chrysler Takeover - the First Marketing Casualty?

31 May 2007

DETROIT: George Murphy (51), svp global brand management, will walk the platinum plank at the struggling US automaker on June 1 - the first marketing casualty since Chrysler's acquisition earlier this month by private equity group Cerberus Capital Management.

No reason is given for Murphy's departure and a terse ritual eulogy was delivered by Steven Landry, the recently appointed evp of North American sales and marketing: "George has made a key contribution to our efforts to retool our brands—Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge," he intoned.

Murphy's going appears to have triggered mixed feelings. Says former Chrysler marketing chief, Bud Liebler: "Chrysler is now going to look for someone whom the dealers can trust and can work well with the dealers."

While John Schenden, president of Pro Chrysler-Jeep in Denver, and a member of the carmaker's dealer council commented: "We need someone who has a feel for us."

Obviously leery at the thought of an unfamiliar face, Schemden added: "When someone outside comes in, they bring in outside feelings, and we're a different kind of company. Once someone has a feel for the product and the culture, it really helps."

Chrysler's dealer relationships in recent years have been on a par with that between the fabled feuding hillbilly clans, the Hatfields and McCoys.

It is just six months since quondam Chrysler marketing chief Joe Eberhardt quit the company beset by outraged dealers who claimed the automaker had tried to pressurize them into ordering vehicles they couldn't sell.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff