Last week, when it was announced that Deborah Wahl Meyer was leaving her post as Lexus’s VP of Marketing to join Chrysler, I held off on reporting it here until I better understood its significance.
Lucky for me, Advertising Age filled in the blanks, with in-depth analysis of Ms. Meyer’s job change:
Ms. Meyer has been unafraid to defy convention, in particular when she began pushing magazines for placement of Lexus models on editorial pages about two years ago.
She also moved Lexus into more one-to-one and event marketing, doubling attendance at Taste of Lexus ride-and-drive tours to 50,000 last year. Ms. Meyer said last fall that she urged her Lexus team “to take a lot of risks for more engagement with consumers,” which the automaker measures closely.
Doug Van Andel recalled Ms. Meyer was “tough at first” when she arrived from Ford Motor Co.‘s Lincoln Mercury as his new Toyota client. Still, the former group creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi … dubbed Ms. Meyer “the most significant agent of change at Toyota during my 15 years at Saatchi.”
Another executive who worked with Ms. Meyer at Toyota said her style will work even better in Detroit, where executives can have media personas. The executive said she sometimes irked Toyota management because the Japanese giant prefers to focus on the “team.”
It’s undeniable that Lexus lacks a typical “spokesperson” presence, and judging by how long that’s been the case, it will remain that way. It will be interesting to see if there’s a visible change in future marketing without Ms. Meyer managing the ship, but I’m sure equally qualified people are lining up to fill her position.