Ford appoints Euro marketing supremo

Ford Motor Company has moved European marketing chief Earl Hesterberg to take charge of marketing across North America.

Ford of Europe vice-president for European sales staff Geoff Polites will replace Hesterberg as vice-president of marketing, sales and service. Polites, who has spent most of his career working for Ford in Australia, will now preside over the launch of the new Ford Focus, which goes on sale in the UK at the beginning of 2005. The launch is crucial for the company: the outgoing Ford Focus continues to be the UK’s best-selling model.

In the US, Hesterberg takes over from James O’Connor, who retires from the post of Ford of North America group vice-president of marketing sales and service.

Hesterberg was recruited from Toyota in 1999, by ousted chief executive Jac Nasser. He was part of a new line-up to invigorate the Ford’s declining European operations. He was responsible for the signing of Kylie Minogue to promote the StreetKa convertible.

However, Ford’s market share has continued to slip. Last month, it was overtaken by arch-rival Vauxhall in the UK market for the first time in a quarter of a century.

Globally, Ford has now been overtaken by Toyota as the second-largest manufacturer behind General Motors, and Ford predicts its European operations will be in the red this year.

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