Schembri Joins Mitsubishi

NEW YORK Mitsubishi Motors North America said it has lured David Schembri from Mercedes-Benz to fill a new position, evp of sales and marketing.

Schembri, most recently vp of most recently vp of Mercedes’ Smart USA division, will now report to CEO and president Rich Gilligan, who replaced Finbarr O’Neill last December.

Mitsubishi said it has not determined if Schembri’s position would fill the post vacated last October by Ian Beavis, former svp of marketing and product planning.

Schembri will participate in the final presentation phase of Mitsubishi’s creative review. Those meetings are scheduled to begin tomorrow at the automaker’s Cypress, Calif., headquarters. The contenders are Omnicom Group’s BBDO in New York; Interpublic Group’s TM Advertising in Irving, Texas; and two Publicis Groupe shops: Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco and Publicis in Seattle. Incumbent Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif., an IPG shop, withdrew from the competition. The client spends about $200 million annually on ads.

At Mercedes, Schembri had been leading the review for Smart Car’s $20 million U.S. launch. StrawberryFrog and DeVito/Verdi, both in New York, and Venables Bell in San Francisco, were identified as finalists this month.

Reporting to Schembri at Mitsubishi will be Mike Tocci, svp sales and distribution, Bob Martin, director of brand marketing, and Kevin Mayer, director of advertising.

In a statement, Schembri said the company’s dealer network will help right the struggling nameplate. “I see tremendous opportunity with this brand,” he said.

Besides Beavis and O’Neill, who left Mitsubishi to become president and CEO of Reynolds and Reynolds, the company in the past few months also lost Diane Hong, director of advertising. Mayer, former product marketing manager, succeeded Hong.

—with Deanna Zammit