Mercedes Taps McNabb

NEW YORK Mark McNabb, a former top marketing executive at Nissan North America, has joined Mercedes-Benz USA as vice president of marketing, filling a vacancy left by the August exit of Michelle Cervantez for Hyundai.

McNabb, 44, starts Monday and will report to Paul Halata, the carmaker’s U.S. president and CEO, Mercedes said. Halata had overseen marketing during the course of the six-month search.

“I’m delighted to welcome Mark to our executive management team,” said Halata, in a statement. “Mark brings with him the leadership, experience and determination to help in our quest to be the best car company in America.”

Halata spent 19 years at Nissan North America before leaving last fall. During the course of his tenure there, he held top posts in marketing, sales and operations, including vp and general manager for Nissan and the same titles for Infiniti, Mercedes said.

Omnicom Group agencies handle nearly all of Mercedes’ marketing, including Merkley + Partners (for general market ads and collateral), Rapp Collins (direct marketing duties) and Footsteps (African-American market ads). Omnicom also holds a 50 percent stake in Critical Mass, Mercedes’ shop for interactive ads. PHD handles media chores.

The luxury carmaker last year spent more than $150 million in major measured media on the brand, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Mercedes sold 224,421 cars in the U.S. in 2005, up 1 percent from the previous year’s total, Mercedes said. It was a record year and the company’s 12th straight year of sales gains.